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Canadian Heritage

Hart Wheeler


HARTLAND (HART) WHEELER (tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, singer) was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 22, 1921. He passed away there June 10, 2005. A professional jazz musician since he was 18 years old, Hart Wheeler's main influences were clarinetist Benny Goodman and saxman Ben Webster.

Wheeler served in the Royal Canadian Air Force Band in World War II. Early in his career he played in the big bands of Ellis McLintock, Mart Kenney, Bobby Gimby, and Art Hallman. He guested several times for TV/movie director Norman Jewison on his CBC TV series "The Denny Vaughan Show"; played with famed artists including James P. Johnson, Cab Calloway, Clark Terry, Ken Peplowski, and Wilbur and Sidney DeParis; and was in the opening band for the most famous jazz concert ever held in Toronto, the now legendary night on May 15th, 1953 at Massey Hall when Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker headed up the band which also included Bud Powell, Max Roach and Charles Mingus.

He was a charter member of Jim Galloway’s Wee Big Band, and in recent years, playing tenor sax and clarinet with the Canadian Tribute to Glenn Miller Orchestra, while also arranging, coaching, and singing with the ‘The Fabulous Moonbeams’ vocal quartet.

He led his own Hart Wheeler Quartet (pianist Ralph Fraser, Lorne Hamilton on drums, bassist Bob Price) in the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concert Series on November 7, 1994, and was a featured member of the Paul Grosney Septet’s ‘Tribute to Louis Armstrong’ SOTJ concert on February 26, 2001.