Duncan Hopkins – Who Are You? The Music of Kenny Wheeler

Duncan Hopkins – Who Are You? The Music of Kenny Wheeler

April 16, 2023

Reg Schwager: guitar
Ted Quinlan: guitar
Duncan Hopkins: bass
Michel Lambert: drums

Who Are You? is British/Canadian bassist Duncan Hopkins’ seventh album as a leader. While his past recordings have consisted almost entirely of original material, his latest offering is a celebration of his mentor, the trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014.) 

The band employs two of Canada’s finest guitar players in Reg Schwager (C.M.) and Ted Quinlan, and is rounded out by Michel Lambert on drums and Hopkins on double bass. All four of these musicians worked with Ken Wheeler at some point in their careers, and know his music well. 

Most of the repertoire was sourced from Wheeler’s recordings, with the exception of the final three tracks: a suite by Hopkins himself, written at Wheeler’s suggestion. Hopkins had a hand written copy of a piece Wheeler wrote for a six guitar group from Buffalo, NY which had never been recorded. Scrawled on the first page was a message from Wheeler, written with his signature self-deprecating sense of humour: “This could be a part of the St. Catharines Suite, if it is any good.” Hopkins then took a piece of Wheeler’s from a 1976 CBC recording called Kitts – the nickname for the city they both grew up in, albeit forty years apart. He completed the suite with an original of his own called Montebello – the name of the park where Wheeler and Hopkins met at the end of Salina St. 

Hopkins has been working at the highest levels of jazz for almost thirty years. He has worked with luminaries including Norma Winstone, Bobo Stenson, Scott Hamilton, Houston Person, Warren Vache, Ed Bickert, Mark Murphy, Peter Appleyard, Bruce Barth, Bobby Watson, Jeremy Pelt, Byron Stripling, Dianna Krall, Kenny Wheeler, Sam Rivers, Harry Allen and Edward Simon to name but a few. He was the bassist for Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass for the final four years of the band, and was a member of the storied Canadian Jazz Quartet for twelve years. He can be seen on film in Where the Truth Lies featuring Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth. He can be heard on over fifty albums, numerous CBC, BBC and NPR recordings and has eight recordings as a leader or co-leader. He is a visiting professor of jazz at the Royal Academy of Music in London, U.K. and is a long standing tutor for the Global Music Foundation.

“St.Catharines has given the jazz world one important composer…Kenny Wheeler. It may have another one … in the person of Duncan Hopkins”

Author and jazz critic Mark Miller (Globe and Mail) 



Release Date: Friday, May 26th on TPR Records.