KENNY WHEELER — Deer Wan (review)

KENNY WHEELER — Deer Wan album cover Album · 1978 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
I can never remember whether Gnu High came before or after Deer Wan, but both albums came out successively on the ECM label, but both albums are fairly different, despite sounding typically ECM and it received a no-less typical ECM artwork. Don’t be fooled by the relative sameness of their respective titles, but if GH was only a Jarrett-derived quartet with added trumpet, DW is a much more structured quintet with a twin-horn attack and Abercrombie’s guitar as a third alternative piston, but he tends to stay much in the rhythm section along with Holland and Dejohnette.

Opening on the 16-mins Peace For Five, an upbeat piece that often toes the fine line of dissonance with Wheeler’s trumpet and Garbarek’s sax sharing the spotlight, but it’s marred by a lengthy DeJohnette drum solo, before the composition takes on a dramatic canvas with emotional horns howling their joy. The short (well, still almost 6-mins) and slow ¾ In The Afternoon sees the quintet augmented by Oregon’s Ralph Towner on acoustic guitar, a soothing track that always flirting with the romantic, sometimes overly so, to the point of reaching cheesiness. On the flipside, the 11-mins Sumother Song plays the same soft romantic and restful card, but the middle section picks up with Wheeler grabbing the spotlight (it’s his album after all) for a wild solo, before the tracks almost stops dead with Abercrombie’s soft guitar outro and an original theme reprise. The closing title track is again in the same soundscapes, but Abercrombie’s guitar finally comes out of the woods, like a deer in the late fall, but the mating-season solo he takes is not from an alpha-male, so Wheeler helps him out

Soooo, outside the album-longest opening piece, the album is mostly gentle listener-friendly ECM fusion that has become the trademark of the German label. Although Deer Wan is a pleasant but unessential album, not many of that label’s release have hit the spot with this reviewer, because it fails to have that extra intensity and energy and like many albums of its kind, it doesn’t seem like the musicians are all that involved in the music..

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mortcola wrote:
6 months ago
This is a fine example of misinformed, sophomoric, faux-authoritative snark and insinuation masquerading as an aesthetically useful or relevant music review. You don't have the chops to riff on this stuff, Sean. You don't know the basics. BTW - Jarrett was a hired hand, and seldom played with Holland and DeJohnette on record, and had trouble with Wheeler odd chordal structures - never again played as a sideman. One of the watershed ECM releases, Wheeler's own favorite and one the other guys have individually lauded. Leave reviewing to writers and guys who know the world the music comes from.
wthii wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Somebody, please have this guy stop reviewing ECMs. He clearly doesn't like them, and there's much more to the music than can be revealed through this person's unthinking monotone put-downs.

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