If, for no other reason than Wadada Leo Smith rears his predominant head, this recording should be considered. Within the electronic walls of All About Jazz, one can forgive me for having not paid proper tribute to Smith's exceptional America's National Parks (Cuneiform Records, 2016) since no less than five colleagues did. I am a late comer to Smith, whose pan-artistic approach is so enormous I have shied away from taking it on. We have lived in a post-John Cage world since the first performance of "4'33."" Space, time, and silence long ago became as important as the tones themselves, and that is what I believe is the point of Ocean of Storms.
Tacitly, Ocean of Storms has no leader. Pianist Tania Chen, guitarist Henry Kaiser, percussionist William Winant and Smith receive equal billing on this collection of five completely improvised recitals. The recording grew out of Smith's long relationship with Kaiser, one that begun 40 years previously with a Smith-composed guitar duet at the behest of Kaiser. A single day in Fantasy Studios, September 19, 2015 resulted in this hour-long exploration of the edge where music becomes thought. Five extended ruminations make up this recording. Each pits the broad-minded musicians against silence apace and one another. Smith divines every possible sound from his trumpet, whether muted or open bell. Kaiser coaxes an impressive array of tactile colors from his acoustic harp guitar. A brief conversation with Kaiser emphasized that, "it's all just 4 people playing live in a room." The pieces begin quiet and thoughtfully with "Bay of Honor" increasing with anxiety until the sonic Armageddon that is "Al-Kwarizimi." I am unsure that I would even call this music. I think it is what may come after music. Ocean of Storms is where "breathe becomes air" and the creative knife edge grows so sharp, electrons are liberated, folding in on themselves.
Bay of Honor; Sea of Crisis; Lake of Time; Montes Spitzbergen; Al-Kwarizimi
Tania Chen: piano; Henry Kaiser: Guitar; Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; William Winant: percussion.
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