Wadada Leo Smith: London, England, August 27, 2012
Little by little, the percussionists settled into a pounding rhythm, demarcated by both Hayward and Noble on their respective hi-hats, while Robinson embellished and accented the insistent beat with his flashing fluorescent red tipped mallets, bobbing like buoys in the murky sea of the Café Oto gloom. Both drummers worked similar veins, though Noble distinguished himself by his patented use of untethered cymbals to draw forth a rich polyphony of boings and reverberations. One of the most powerful interludes ensued after Hayward and Noble locked into a rocking 4/4, over which Smith layered echoing gnarled motifs over the top, reminiscent of trumpeter Miles Davis in his electric pomp.
Typically demonstrating his compositional sensibility, Smith's interpolations were weighted to balance and buttress the near continuous tattoo, whether meditative mutterings or echoed fanfares. As in the first set, the trumpeter listened appreciatively for long periods, an attitude forced upon him when one of his foot pedals ceased to function. Smith gestured to the three percussionists to continue while he waited for a repairto no avail, in spite of Coxon's assistance. Finally accepting the inevitable, the trumpeter cued up the rhythmic framework he desired and then chiseled sparse notes and unhurried dirge like phrases to bring the piece to a halt.
While not quite the resounding success of the earlier set, once again Smith found a fertile meeting of minds. Best yet, the performance will be broadcast in early November 2012, presaging Smith's appearance at the London Jazz Festival in an intriguing pairing with pianist John Tilbury.
All Photos: John Sharpe