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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

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Wadada Leo Smith has been on an amazingly productive streak the last few years, creating ambitious work for all kinds of configurations, large orchestras, string ensembles, quartets, duos and solo. About the only format he hadn't explored lately was the dense electronic jazz-rock he's played in the past with his groups Organic and Yo! Miles. With Najwa he finally returns to that format, heading a group featuring four guitarists, two percussionists, his own trumpet and the weighty bass guitar of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk

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In the hundredth anniversary year of Thelonious Monk's birth, there won't be many better or more heartfelt tributes than this solo recital by trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. In an astonishing late career flowering Smith has released a string of stupendous recordings for everything from large ensembles to intimate duets, with his monumental Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012) the standout entry. But Solo: Reflections And Meditations On Monk constitutes his first unaccompanied outing since Red Sulphur Sky (Tzadik, 2001). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk

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Wadada Leo Smith comes to the music of Thelonious Monk from a childhood admiration of the artist. As a pre-teen he was already playing trumpet and composing and instinctively knew that Monk's understanding of music and sound would influence his own creativity. Smith believes that the quintessence of Monk can best be found in his solo work. The same can be said for Smith who has produced two previous solo collections including Creative Music--1 (1972) and Solo Music: Ahkreanvention (1979), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

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Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's introductory liner notes to Najwa begin with Muddy Waters, so we'll begin there, too. Wadada Leo Smith was born in 1941, in Leland, Mississippi, around the time Alan Lomax showed up down in Clarksdale, Miss., to record--among many others--McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters. The Lomax field recordings of Waters and his band became the album Down On Stovall's Plantation (Universe Records, 1966). It was an all acoustic affair. Then, shortly after these tunes were ...

LIVE FROM NEW YORK

Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell & Susie Ibarra

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Phantom Station The Stone at The New School June 17, 2017 The Stone is pulling its shutters down for the last time, come the close of 2017. John Zorn's excellent Alphabet City corner venue has spent 12 years being an uncompromising centre for questioning music, but its mastermind has now found a new home closer to Manhattan's more visible core. It was announced earlier this year that The Stone concept would become ensconced at ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Satoko Fujii / Wadada Leo Smith / Natsuki Tamura / Ikue Mori: Aspiration

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The soul of Gato Libre, and the glue that holds numerous global jazz orchestras together, are in the musical and personal partnership that has mastered creative music in a variety of formations and settings. Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura are prolific and boundless and Aspiration is the latest of their more than sixty recordings together. Aspiration credits Fujii as the album's leader, by virtue of her contributions as the primary composer. Joining Fujii and Tamura are the legendary trumpeter/composer Wadada ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Wadada Leo Smith At Firehouse 12

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Wadada Leo Smith Firehouse 12 Create Festival New Haven, Connecticut April 8-9, 2017 It is rare to experience the arc of a prolific artist's work while they are still active, and in the case of Wadada Leo Smith, to witness it at the simultaneous height of creative power and reflective composure. That privilege was offered by a two-day series presented at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut. The event combined seminars and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tania Chen, Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith, William Winant: Ocean of Storms

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In between stints as a videographer of below-ice underwater regions in Antarctica, guitarist Henry Kaiser maintains a remarkably busy agenda as an improvising musician. Here he's joined by Wadada Leo Smith, an occasional partner going back to their mutual connection with Eugene Chadbourne in the 1970s and later collaboration on their Yo Miles! album from 1998. Pianist Tania Chen and percussionist William Winant, both of whom have recently worked with Kaiser as well (on Megasonic Chapel, from 2015), round out ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harriet Tubman and Wadada Leo Smith: Araminta

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Things are urgent now. Actually, they have been critical for some time, but you might have chosen to ignore them. Politics, racism, sexism, war, inequality, and xenophobia are now issues that you must confront at home, work, in social media, and even within your bowling league. Everyone must have an opinion, and maybe that is the good news. This consciousness of social justice has long been the well that artists and musicians draw from. Half a century ago ...


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