All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is no stranger to plugged-in performance. Like Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis, his musical systems prove just as applicable to electronic as to all-acoustic environments. Indeed one of Smith's earliest such immersions was Yo Miles! inspired by Miles' 1970s guitar shredding bands. Multiple electric strings have also formed an integral part of his Organic ensemble, as heard on Spiritual Dimensions (Cuneiform, 2009) and Heart's Reflections (Cuneiform, 2011). So Najwa with its quartet of electric guitarists fits easily into that lineage, although unlike Organic, Smith's smoldering trumpet constitutes the only horn here.

The cast list brings together many names familiar from previous projects, including guitarists Henry Kaiser, co-founder of Yo Miles!, Michael Gregory Jackson, who worked with Smith in the 1970s and like Smith's grandson Lamar Smith and also Brandon Ross, is part of Organic. Long time collaborator drummer Pheeroan AkLaff has also been involved with Smith regularly from 1976 onwards, while percussionist Adam Rudolph, celebrated for his extensive hook ups with Yusef Lateef, cut Compassion (Meta/Kabell, 2006) a duet date with the trumpeter. A newer but equally important presence is Bill Laswell who not only contributes electric bass but was responsible for post production and mixing.

Laswell's influence promotes a cohesive oceanic electronic swell across the five tracks, creating the feel of a suite. For his part Smith blends blistering fusillades with heraldic fanfares and blue-tinged musings which either hang above or etch across the seething landscape of pealing guitars, chattering cross rhythms, drifting synth and growling electric bass. Although the four guitars are spread across the soundstage the typically sumptuous TUM packaging provides no indication of the individual performers so you can't be sure who does what if that matters to you.

As is his custom, Smith sets his taut statements in stark relief through judicious use of space, heard to good effect during a sprightly interlude with cymbals and Rudolph's hand drums during the second part of "Ornette Coleman's Harmolodic Sonic Hierographic Forms: A Resonance Change In The Millennium" and in his short dancing phrases in a funky open passage towards the end of "Ohnedaruth John Coltrane: The Master Of Kosmic Music And His Spirituality In A Love Supreme."

The title track shifts down a gear, with Smith's muted trumpet bubbling up out of the mix of gently chiming guitars. A similar emotional charge pervades the closing "The Empress, Lady Day: In A Rainbow Garden, With Yellow-Gold Hot Springs, Surrounded By Exotic Plants And Flowers," where Smith's carefully placed blasts amid dreamy glacial electronic washes conjure an ambience at first reflective but ultimately elegiac, as his wavering arpeggios stretch into the upper register.

As ever with Smith, the humanity transcends the circuitry and bends it to his design.

Track Listing: Ornette Coleman's Harmolodic Sonic Hierographic Forms: A Resonance Change in The Millennium; Ohnedaruth John Coltrane: The Master of Kosmic Music and His Spirituality in a Love Supreme; Najwa; Ronald Shannon Jackson: The Master of Symphonic Drumming and Multisonic Rhythms, Inscriptions of Rare Beauty; The Empress, Lady Day: In a Rainbow Garden, With Yellow-Gold Hot Springs, Surrounded by Exotic Plants and Flowers.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Michael Gregory Jackson: guitars; Henry Kaiser: guitars; Brandon Ross: guitars; Lamar Smith: guitars; Bill Laswell: electric bass; Pheeroan akLaff: drums; Adam Rudolph: percussion.

Title: Najwa | Year Released: 2017 | 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

CD/LP/Track Review
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 Between the Silence CD/LP/Track Review
Between the Silence
by John Kelman
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Flying CD/LP/Track Review
Flying
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Barxeta II CD/LP/Track Review
Barxeta II
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Vidas Simples CD/LP/Track Review
Vidas Simples
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Kinship CD/LP/Track Review
Kinship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Ask For Chaos CD/LP/Track Review
Ask For Chaos
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "Meander" CD/LP/Track Review Meander
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 6, 2018
Read "Song of the Silver Geese" CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Silver Geese
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "Fairytales" CD/LP/Track Review Fairytales
by Gareth Thompson
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" CD/LP/Track Review Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 9, 2018
Read "No Fast Food" CD/LP/Track Review No Fast Food
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 6, 2018
Read "Music For David Mossman / Live At Vortex London" CD/LP/Track Review Music For David Mossman / Live At Vortex London
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 7, 2018