The Enigma of Clarence Wheeler

29 Dec

One of the songs we’ll be doing at the Mackie Riverside & The Streetpushers show this New Years Eve at Union Pool is “Right On” by Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers, most of which I remember from Fly Girl by Queen Latifah. But as I’m listening to the set over my morning coffee before picking up my horn, I’m sitting here realizing I have no idea who my fellow hornblower Clarence Wheeler is or was. What I discovered by spending a quarter of an hour or so googling is that I’m not the only one. Clarence Wheeler, the tenor saxman who led the jazz funk sax outfit The Enforcers in Chicago in the early 70s, remains an enigma without a wikipedia page (I did learn that a composer with the same name was responsible for a lot of the orchestral sounds I enjoyed on the Woody Woodpecker show as a kid, but I’m guessing he wasn’t a relation). All I could find out without spending too much time researching is that there are a couple of critically acclaimed Enforcers albums, Doin’ What We Wanna and The Love I’ve Been Looking For, as well as a solo LP from 1972 entitled The New Chicago Blues. Whether or not Clarence is still around and blowing I could not ascertain. So if anybody out there reads this and knows anything about this funky purveyor of horn chic, please comment. I’d love to know more.

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4 Responses to “The Enigma of Clarence Wheeler”

  1. Stephanie V. January 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Hi
    I live in Greenpoint and noticed that you play in this area so I looked at your blog.

    Being a researcher of sorts, I couldn’t resist searching and I agree, Clarence Wheeler is an enigma. As you may have found, couple of note below.

    Hope to come hear you one day.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=_7MxKLhpBkMC&pg=PA82&lpg=PA82&dq=clarence+wheeler+south+side+chicago&source=bl&ots=sDE9ou7ofq&sig=J4X0xFwrasiOsF3mgLIbIrVLbrU&hl=en&ei=rzElTbDaBMKclge2v-ncAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=clarence%20wheeler%20south%20side%20chicago&f=false

    Above jazz history book page refers to Clarence Wheeler coming out and playing The Sheik while standing on his head.

    This page has one ref to Clarence Wheeler, doesn’t go anywhere but maybe there’s more there…somewhere
    http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/cja.html

    • Moist Paula's Horn Chic January 6, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      Incredible re the headstand! I don’t think I’ll try that with my bari, even though I CAN stand on my head. Hope to see you some time in Brooklyn, I play every Monday night at Union Pool from 11pm – 2am — it’s free!

  2. boogieman August 12, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    Hi Paula, i recently found a the LP the New Chicago Blues album here in Brussels, Belgium. Did exactly like you, went on the Net, did some fairly extensive search and came with basically nothing more than some discographical info on his 3 albums … Who was that guy??? I hope we’ll have the pleasure to see u blowin’ your horn in Belgium one of these days. Cheers.

    • Moist Paula's Horn Chic August 13, 2012 at 1:48 am #

      Hi Didier – thanks for reading; I guess Clarence Wheeler is one of the many amazing musicians who pass through the world and make some really awesome sounds that remain for the most part unheard. Every obscure record that comes my way, I think about the excitement of all the people making it, what it feels like when your record is “done”; so many go the way of these records by Clarence Wheeler. Even to this day most of the music made anywhere on earth will only be heard by a handful of listeners.

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