All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

2

Wadada Leo Smith & Louis Moholo-Moholo: Ancestors

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo are grand old men in the annals of adventurous jazz, having played in a dizzying variety of settings through more than five decades. More to the point, both have amply shown a capacity for nuanced playing in demanding, interactive improvisational formats. An intimate duet performance by the pair, featured on Ancestors—sensitively recorded by Suikki Jääskä in Finland in February 2011—is thus a sure thing. The question is whether the result will exceed excellence and achieve sublimity. To put the matter metaphorically: will this be merely a sparkling tête-à-tête between two brilliant conversationalists, flitting from one witty bon mot to the next, or will the conversationalists hit upon profound truths?

Ancestors delights, first, for the sustained intelligence, creativity and sound of each player. Smith is an encyclopedia of timbres, dynamics and every other conceivable trumpet-playing resource. Moholo-Moholo, meanwhile, keeps up with the Joneses: his groove is as deep as Philly Joe's, he is as multi-limbed as Elvin, and he draws upon the full range of his kit's sonic possibilities.

Individual excellence, meanwhile, is matched by effective interplay. "Moholo-Moholo/Golden Spirit" offers a textbook lesson in jazz empathy. Smith plays an earnest melodic line (one that variously evokes, in passing, saxophonist Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and pianist Joe Zawinul's "In A Silent Way") with the trumpet mute in place. Through most of the cut, Moholo-Moholo plays a regular pulse, but varies the dynamics sensitively and ingeniously in response to Smith's rising and falling intensity.

Toward the beginning of "No Name In The Street—James Baldwin," the roles seem to be reversed, with the drummer establishing the temperature and the trumpeter expertly matching the heat level.

What lends this record its coherence is Moholo-Moholo's steady, low- end pulse; its variety stems from Smith's restless stylistic searching. These roles become more apparent during the wholly improvised five-part suite that gives the album its title. It's during the twenty-five-plus minute "Ancestors," in fact, that Smith and Moholo-Moholo sound most likely to transcend witty conversation into deeper truths. Smith digs into "Part 2" with split notes and an implied time signature pulling against the drummer's vaguely New Orleans second-line rhythm. Over the rapid march of "Part 3," Smith's trumpet—muted at first and at the end—explores bizarre but expressive sputtering experiments. "Part 1" and "Part 5" are percussion only, with shout-outs from the drummer to a long list of ancestors (drummers Ed Blackwell, Han Bennink, and Art Blakey among them), seconded by Smith: The metaphorical conversation comes back to earth with a literal conversation.

Track Listing: Moholo-Moholo/Golden Spirit; No Name In The Street, James Baldwin; Jackson Pollock, Action; Siholaro; Ancestors.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet, percussion; Louis Moholo-Moholo: drums, percussion, voice.

Title: Ancestors | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: TUM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Monk and His Five Point Ring at the Five Spot Cafe

Monk and His Five Point Ring at the Five Spot Cafe

Wadada Leo Smith
Solo: Reflections and...

Najwa

Najwa

Wadada Leo Smith
Najwa

Dred Scott: 1857

Dred Scott: 1857

Wadada Leo Smith
Ten Freedom Summers

South Central L.A. Kulture

South Central L.A. Kulture

Wadada Leo Smith
Spiritual Dimensions

Best of / Year End
Multiple Reviews
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Araminta

Araminta

Sunnyside Records
2017

buy
Najwa

Najwa

TUM Records
2017

buy
Ocean of Storms

Ocean of Storms

Self Produced
2017

buy
America’s National Parks

America’s National...

Cuneiform Records
2016

buy
America's National Parks

America's National...

Cuneiform Records
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read First Impressions CD/LP/Track Review
First Impressions
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two CD/LP/Track Review
Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two
by Chris May
Published: February 25, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review
In Stride
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Osmosis CD/LP/Track Review
Osmosis
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest CD/LP/Track Review
Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 25, 2018
Read You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To CD/LP/Track Review
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018
Read "Passing and Longing and There Is Only a Trace Left" CD/LP/Track Review Passing and Longing and There Is Only a Trace Left
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "In Praise of Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review In Praise of Shadows
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Serious Play" CD/LP/Track Review Serious Play
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "E.S.T. Symphony" CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Solo a Genova" CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Doug Collette
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "We Out Here" CD/LP/Track Review We Out Here
by Chris May
Published: February 24, 2018