Drummer/ composer/ bandleader JJ Wheeler, writes about music he has written during a period of treatment for cancer, and previews its premiere next month:
I was diagnosed with cancer in August 2012. Half-way through my studies at the Royal Academy of Music and with a busy schedule of gigs and touring, it came as a massive shock, turning my world upside down in a matter of minutes. A diagnosis like that, aged just 23, is the last thing you expect and the following year of chemotherapy and recovery certainly has had it’s challenges. Such a battle with a life-threatening illness is always going to have knock on effects, both positive and negative.
However, one positive result of my experience has been a new suite of music, A Question of Hope, started during treatment and completed recently, which reflects on my own journey through cancer. It’s an emotionally charged work for 10-piece ensemble, featuring some of London’s most outstanding young musicians, including Reuben Fowler, Joe Wright, Paola Vera and Kieran McLeod. Throughout the suite, the question of where we find hope and strength during a time in which it seems devoid is asked. Other pieces reflect on specific feelings or experiences, including guilt, gratitude and frustration.
I am incredibly excited to be presenting the new suite, along with a set of ‘covers’ of some of my favourite tunes by artists including Jamirquai, John Hollenbeck and KT Tunstall at The Forge in Camden on 20th November 2013 as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.
JJ Wheeler has given a more in-depth interview to Peter Bacon of the Jazz Breakfast