ISHMAEL WADADA LEO SMITH trumpet-player, multi- instrumentalist, composer and improviser has been active in the creative contemporary world music for over thirty years. His theory of Jazz and World music was significant in his music development as an artist and educator.
Born in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began in the high school concert and marching bands. At the age of thirteen, he became immersed within the Delta Blues and Improvisation music traditions. He received his formal musical education with his father, the U.S. Military band program (1963), Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).
As an Improvisor-Composer, Smith has studied a variety of music cultures (African, Japanese, Indonesian, European and American) and has developed a Jazz and world music theory, and a notation system to fully express this music which he calls "Ankhrasmation".
He has taught at the University of New Haven 1975-'76, the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY. 1975-'78, and Bard College 1987-'93. He is currently a professor of Music at the California Institute of the Arts, and is the director of the MFA program in African American Improvisation. He is a member of ASCAP Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Mr. Smith's awards includes: Islamic World Arts Initiative of Arts International 2004, Meet the Composer/ Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program 1996, Asian Cultural Council Grantee to Japan June-Augast 1993; Meet the Composer/ Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program 1990; New York Foundation on the Arts Fellowship in Music 1990; Numerous Meet the Composer Grants since1977; and National Eneowment for the Arts Music Grants 1972, 1974, 1981.
Mr. Smith's music philosophy Notes (8 Pieces) Source a New. World Music: Creative Music has been published by Kiom Press 1973, translated and published in Japan by Zen-On Music Company Ltd. 1976.
In 1981 Notes was translated into Italian and published by Nistri-Litschi Editori. He was invited to a conference of artists, scientists and philosophers "Third Culture Copenhagen" in Denmark 1996, and presented a paper on his Ankhrasmation music theory and notational system for creative musicians. His interview was recorded for Denmark T.V., broadcasted September 1996.
He has composed music for solo, ensemble, classical and creative orchestra and stage works. His solo piano music has been performed by Ms. Ursula Opens, Ms. Marilyn Crispell, Mr. David Rosenboom and Ms. Vickie Ray.
Mr. Smith's Nda-Kulture ensemble has performed most of his music since 1970. His compositions has been performed by other contemporary music ensembles: AACM -Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Da Capo Chamber Player, New Century Players, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Contemporary Chamber Players (University of Chicago), S.E.M. Ensemble and California E.A.R. Unit.