How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Compassion, a beautiful duet recording by Wadada Leo Smith and Adam Rudolph, provides a welcome addition to jazz' long tradition of spiritual expression. Recorded live in 2002 at a concert in Venice, California, the disc features Smith on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Rudolph on handrumset, dusu'ngoni, sibsi, vocal, kalimbas, gongs, cymbals and percussion.
The song titles give a sense of the musicians' intentionsfor example, "Sun Ray Colors and Rainbow Images," "Fragrance of Light," and "Silver Drum Circle." Like colored light, there's something intriguingly ephemeral about this music; it's as if you could put your hand through it. But although the music is often quite ethereal, with long and pure notes from Smith and Rudolph chiming like a temple bell, Smith also gets gritty, and at one point Rudolph sounds like a frog. There's an amazing variety of feelings and tones and rhythms, yet they're all encased in an elegant spaciousness. This space allows the listener to hear all the sounds and really experience their shapes and colors.
What makes this an apt form of spiritual expression is the duo's pervading sense of modesty. They are both strong players, but following in the footsteps of Coltrane, Bird and so many others, they are playing in service to something larger than themselves. Smith and Rudolph aim for the heart of sound, the place where it intersects with something all-encompassing. And on Compassion they generously take the listener along for the journey.
Track Listing: Beauty: Aquamarine Night; Sun Ray Colors and Rainbow Images; Fragrance of Light; Love Rhythms, Heart Songs; Song of Humanity; Silver Dream Circle; The Caller and the Called.
Personnel: Adam Rudolph: handrumset, dusu'ngoni, sibsi, vocal, kalimbas, gongs, cymbals, percussion; Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet, flugelhorn.