The Wheeler Variations consist of four songs: “KEN”, “NY”, “WHEEL”, “ER”, followed by some improvised pieces played in the form of variation.
As you can notice, the name of each song is a chunk of “Kenny Wheeler”, containing a specific number of letters, according to the number of the variations that follow.
For example, the first song “KEN”, is followed by three variations called “k”, “e [#1]”, and “n”. Each song is played by the whole group, whereas the variations are played by different combos of a few members.
This rather complex scheme is what makes the project really adventurous, yet maintaining a solid structure. As Kenny Wheeler declared in an interview “I’m still trying to find soppy melodies mixed with a bit of chaos”. The Wheeler Variations state my clear declaration of love to the imaginary world of Kenny Wheeler.
The group is a distinctive ensemble comprised of piano, voice, soprano and tenor saxophones, bass and drums. The extraordinary and versatile vocalist Simona Severini, the great Stan Sulzmann, long time friend and collaborator of Kenny Wheeler, Stefano Cantini, a superb melodist on the soprano, Ares Tavolazzi, best known for his work with the group Area, and Enzo Zirilli, one of the greatest drummers of today’s jazz european scene.