Kenny Wheeler was born Canada in 1930 and, with encouragement from his father – himself a trombone player – began playing trumpet at age 12. After studying at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory, he arrived in London in 1952, his playing enveloped in the sounds of Miles Davis, Booker Little, and Fats Navarro. In 1959, Wheeler joined the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra and stayed there until 1963, although he returned frequently for shows and other projects in the years that followed. He quickly become a distinguished soloist in the Orchestra and appeared on Dankworth’s key sixties albums. Wheeler met and played with the rising artists of London’s free jazz scene. Players such as Trevor Watts, Derek Bailey, and Evan Parker, musicians who would challenge the conventions of the day, eschewing formal composition and structure to embark on group improvisation. For a musician thoroughly schooled in all the conventions of charts and dance bands as Wheeler was, this was a radical departure. Wheeler’s contributions proved his ample flexibility and showed he was capable of inhabiting both the free environment and the more formal and controlled settings of a big band and orchestra. This was shown most clearly on his debut album, Windmill Tilter, recorded for Fontana with the John Dankworth Orchestra. The album features a young John McLaughlin on guitar along with bassist Dave Holland and a roster of talented and well respected musicians playing on one of the greatest modern jazz big band and orchestral albums.