Wadada Leo Smith: A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday


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Wadada Leo Smith: A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday
Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith creates a new trio with Vijay Iyer and drummer Jack DeJohnette. While the pianist and drummer have never recorded together, like a Venn diagram, their orbits were destined to overlap. Both musicians have recorded duets with Smith and both were members of Smith's Golden Quartet, just not at the same time.

This recording from 2016, by three master artists, was fated to occur. With each new release from Smith, we appoint it as his finest work. While that statement cannot possibly be true, A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday is a deserving candidate. Let's call this a leaderless trio with each musician contributing compositions. Smith's work opens the disc with the title track. DeJohnette draws on his colorful palette of cymbals and drums to command a quiet attention to Smith's trumpet. With Iyer's tracings, we hear that magisterial trumpet of Smith. It sounds not unlike that of Barack Obama in its delivery, forceful yet measured. That stateliness is also found on the longest track, "The A.D. Opera: A Long Vision with Imagination, Creativity and Fire, a dance opera (For Anthony Davis)." At over 18 minutes, the music resembles an opera with different moods and sounds. Iyer switches from acoustic to electric keyboards and DeJohnette alters his playing as if he was summoning contrasting weather patterns. Iyer's contribution "Deep Time No.1" mixes electronics with samples of a Malcolm X speech upon which Smith's muted trumpet comments. The sound here and on the brief improvisation "Rocket" summons the early '70s electric Miles Davis' experiments with Chick Corea. DeJohnette's contribution "Song for World Forgiveness," which he recorded with John Surman and also with himself at the piano for the solo recording Return (Newvelle Records, 2016) might be the pinnacle here. The three musicians realize an ineffable combination of beauty and sadness which is unsurpassable.

Track Listing

Billie Holiday: A Love Sonnet; Deep Time No. 1; The A.D. Opera: A Long Vision With Imagination; Creativity And Fire: A Dance Opera; Song For World Forgiveness; Rocket.


Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Vijay Iyer: piano; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Album information

Title: A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: TUM Records

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