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Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer & Jack DeJohnette: A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday


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Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer & Jack DeJohnette: A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday
Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith reconvenes his Golden Quartet (sort of) for A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday. It began back in 2000 with the group's eponymous Tzadik Records release, featuring pianist Anthony Davis, Malachi Favors Maghostut on bass and drummer Jack DeJohnette. More albums came about—The Year of the Elephant (Pi Recordings, 2002), Tabligh (Cuniform Records, 2008) and more. The cast of characters shuffled, and some of Smith's most beautiful and approachable music was made.

This time around, this group could be called "The Golden Trio," Smith teaming with two alumni of different versions of the Golden Quartet: Drummer DeJohnette, a member of the debut iteration, and pianist Iyer who came later in the run. In the spirit of collaboration, all members contributed compositions. With no bass in the mix, the sound takes on a more spacious vibe. The tunes float far off the mainstream, but all contain a spiritual freedom and an unorthodox loveliness.

The disc opens with the Smith-penned title tune which begins with a subdued but irrepressible orchestral DeJohnette drum solo which seems to be summoning the Gods. Then Smith and Iyer enter, searching, crafting a gentle breeze dreamscape; and while Iyer, in his own recordings, can lay down intense, percussive momentums, here and throughout the album (mostly), he displays a gorgeous, almost Bobo Stenson-esque delicacy of touch.

Iyer's original "Deep Time No. 1" introduces the pianist's deftly-applied electronics sound to the mix, with a recording of Malcolm X's "By any means necessary" speech in scuffling undertones, acting, in its low-in-the-mix condition as a mumbling, babbling-brook sort of vocalese which humanizes the outer space electro atmosphere of the sound, while counterpointing Smith's sharp human cry on his muted trumpet.

DeJohnette's "Song For World Forgiveness" is airy and majestic, like music found in nature, on a mountain top or in a desolate desert, sounding like an eternal truth, just like the rest of the album.

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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