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Wadada Leo Smith & John Lindberg: Celestial Weather

Dan McClenaghan By

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Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, one of the original AACM artists and a major avant-garde artist in his own right, is perhaps best known of late for his highly ambitious, monumental orchestral works—Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform Records, 2013) and Occupy the World (TUM Records, 2013). In 2014 he turned this approach down a bit—using using an all-star quintet—and released one of the finest recording of his career, the much heralded The Great Lakes Suite (TUM Records). He turns things down even further here, with Celestial Weather, a duo improvisation outing with his long time collaborator on the bass, John Lindberg.

Smith has, for all his work with ensembles of all sizes, a particularly compelling history of outstanding duo recordings: The Nile (Hardedge, 2014) with electro-wizard Hardedge; Twin Forest (Clean Feed Records, 2013) with pianist Angelica Sanchez; Ancestors (TUM Records, 2012) featuring percussionist Louis Moholo Maholo; and The Blue Sun Dreamer (Kabell Records, 2010) with iconic drummer Ed Blackwell.

With Celestial Weather, Smith and Lindberg employ a spare, conversational approach. Smith whispers on the mute and issues plaintive cries with the open horn. Lindberg bows and goes pizzicato. Smith searches for and finds very un-trumpet-like sounds—squawks and squeaks and whistles. Unlike Smith's large scale offerings, that often feature massive cacophonies, space is a major facet of the sound. It is music that is reflective and serene.

The disc's centerpiece, the five part "Celestial Weather Suite," features sections like "Cyclone," Hurricane" and "Typhoon," but the music is far from the cataclysms the titles might imply. The sound, as on the rest of the set, is thoughtful and patient, like raging winds filmed then set on slow motion, so the intricacies of the maelstroms can be better observed/heard.

Celestial Weather is another worthy entry into Wadada Leo Smith's ever-growing library of numerous duo recordings.

Track Listing: Malachi Favors Maghostut--A Monarch of Creative Music, Part 1 and Part 2; Celestial Weather Suite: Cyclone; Hurricane; Icy Fog; Typhoon; Tornado. Feathers and Earth: Part 1; Part 2.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; John Lindberg: double bass.

Title: Celestial Weather | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: TUM Records

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