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.