The musicians played Kenny Wheeler's compositions intently: (l-r) Michel Delage, Alex Bilodeau, Roddy Ellias, Peter Hum, Mark Ferguson, Christine Fagan ©Brett Delmage, 2014
The musicians played Kenny Wheeler's compositions intently: (l-r) Michel Delage, Alex Bilodeau, Roddy Ellias, Peter Hum, Mark Ferguson, Christine Fagan ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Updated 2014 September 30 to add video interviews and concert excerpts

On Friday, a benefit concert in Ottawa for the late Canadian trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler raised $900, with more expected from those who couldn't attend.

The benefit was organized by guitarist Roddy Ellias and pianist Peter Hum. They recruited Mark Ferguson on trombone, Alex Bilodeau on bass, Michel Delage on drums, and Christine Fagan on vocals. Together, they honoured Wheeler and his major influence on jazz and big band music. In two sets, they played a wide range of compositions by Wheeler, to a very attentive, quiet, and appreciative full house at Zola's Restaurant in Bells Corners.

The $900 came from cash donations during the show, and from raffling a photo of Wheeler by jazz photographer John Fowler. Ellias said that others who couldn't attend had also pledged donations. A PayPal account has been set up by Wheeler's family for donations: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

A Toronto benefit, with the Mike Murley Quintet also playing two sets of Wheeler's compositions, will be held October 2 at The Rex. Another will be held in Rome, Italy, on September 28 with trumpeter Fabrizio Basso, saxophonist Stefano di Battista, and pianist Enrico Pieranunzi.

Wheeler died the day before the benefit, at age 84, after having been in ill health and unable to perform for several months. Ellias said the money raised would go to defray the family's expenses and help Wheeler's widow, Doreen.

    – Alayne McGregor

 See also: Ottawa musicians hold a benefit this Friday for the ailing Kenny Wheeler