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Wadada Leo Smith / Amina Claudine Myers: Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens

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Wadada Leo Smith / Amina Claudine Myers: Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens
Since the beginning of the 2000s, Wadada Leo Smith has produced a number of small masterpieces in the form of themed box sets. The prolific composer/trumpeter has aged into a creative period analogous to few of his contemporaries. His monumental Ten Freedom Summers (TUM, 2013)—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—America's National Parks (Cuneiform Records, 2016), and Trumpet (TUM, 2021), have each taken disparate roads in redefining creative music. The relative brevity and contemplative atmosphere of Central Park's Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens, a duo recording with Amina Claudine Myers, is no less compelling than his larger scale projects.

Primarily known as a pianist and organist, Myers, a highly regarded jazz and gospel artist, should have been a household name long ago. She is an international performer who often works with choirs and ensembles and has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since its inception. Myers has worked with Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, Lester Bowie, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk among many other familiar artists. She has recorded a dozen albums as a leader or co-leader.

Myers' gospel roots are most often nuanced in the music of Central Park's Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens. "Conservatory Gardens" is an unhurried stroll through the magnolia and lilac trees of the English garden, Smith swooping through the air in stunning long lines. "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir" is the only track featuring Myers on organ. With Smith, the duo paints a tranquil soundscape of a one-hundred-plus acre reservoir known for its birdlife. "When Was" is a Myers composition influenced by classical piano themes, sharply contrasting with Smith's pace.

The remaining tracks, "The Harlem Meer," "Albert Ayler, a meditation in light," and "Imagine, a mosaic for John Lennon," offer subtle variations of meticulously crafted textures. Each has a continual and energetic power but it often prowls below the surface. The interchanges between Smith and Myers are uncommon and incandescent.

Smith and Myers began performing together in the 1970s. They have shared connections and influences from the earliest wave of the AAMC. That organization's eclectic inspirations from the worlds of global music, jazzmand classical avant-garde seamlessly play into the spaciousness of Central Park's Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens. It is a superb album from start to finish.

Track Listing

Conservatory Garden; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir; Central Park at Sunset; When Was; The Harlem Meer; Albert Ayler, a meditation in light; Imagine, a mosaic for John Lennon.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Amina Claudine Myers: organ (2)

Album information

Title: Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Red Hook Records


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