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Wadada Leo Smith / Sabu Toyozumi: Burning Meditation

Read "Burning Meditation" reviewed by John Sharpe

The Japanese concept of ma—a celebration of the space between things—is one to which trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith can readily subscribe. Space and silence are as important as sound in his conception. The weight given to the pauses between phrases stands out on this live recording from 1994 with Japanese drummer Sabu Toyozumi, which forms another winning installment in the Chap Chap series of archival recordings from Japan which see the light of day thanks to licensing to the Lithuanian ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love

Read "Rosa Parks: Pure Love" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

Wadada Leo Smith has been on a roll in the 2010s, recording and composing in several formats, including ambitious, long-form works such as the Pulitzer-nominated Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012,) which dealt mostly with the history of race relations in America. His latest work concentrates on one specific figure mentioned in that suite, Rosa Parks, the woman whose defiance of racial segregation laws in Montgomery, Alabama triggered a bus boycott that helped spark the civil rights movement from the mid ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs

Read "Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs" reviewed by John Sharpe

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's prolonged late career flowering shows no sign of abating with the creation of yet another epic work, following on the heels of his monumental Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012), Great Lakes Suite (TUM, 2014) and America's National Parks (Cuneiform, 2016). For his inspiration he takes the story of Rosa Parks, one of the heroines of the US Civil Rights Movement, famed for her role in the pioneering 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and draws on it as ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs

Read "Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs" reviewed by Doug Hall

Acclaimed trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator Wadada Leo Smith has released an oratorio of seven songs inspired by the iconic civil rights leader Rosa Parks. In his own words, Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs is “concerned with ideas of freedom, liberty and justice, a meditation centered around the civil rights movement." Looking at Smith's more than 50 years of creative and artistic vision, this release is yet another inspired organic musical direction that has established him ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love

Read "Rosa Parks: Pure Love" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Like several exceptional modern era composers from Ornette Coleman to John Zorn to Tyshawn Sorey, the “jazz" appellation has only anecdotal application to the latter-day calling of Wadada Leo Smith as a composer. On his previous Cuneiform releases Ten Freedom Summers (2012) and America's National Parks (2016), Smith worked with an ear toward confronting injustice and raising social awareness of issues that share a broad platform. He continues in that vein with Rosa Parks: Pure Love , subtitled “An Oratorio ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

Read "Najwa" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

Trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith is one of the few musicians remaining from the original, founding generation of Chicago's legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. But he has hardly rested since; Smith's Ten Freedom Summers (2012, Cuneiform) was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music; in 2017, Smith swept the Downbeat Critics' Poll for Trumpeter, Artist, and Album (America's National Parks, [Cuneiform]) of the Year, and he was named Musician of the Year by the Jazz ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa

Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa" reviewed by Doug Collette

Wadada Leo Smith's most recently recorded albums reaffirm this trumpeter/composer/bandleader's deep, abiding loyalty to his muse. Equally so on stage or in the studio, Smith's devotion to the creative impulse is absolutely unwavering, and, as a result, his works are pure, direct expressions of his concepts, undiluted by compromise. Such is the uniformity of his execution that Smith can take diverse approaches as represented by these two TUM records, one of which is a solo album in homage to Thelonious ...

YEAR IN REVIEW

Karl Ackermann's Best Releases of 2017

Read "Karl Ackermann's Best Releases of 2017" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

2017 was an exceptional year for artists who elude convention; veterans such as Wadada Leo Smith and relative newcomers like Abdul Moimême gave us unique musical insights. It was an outstanding year for solo recordings. Along with Smith and Moimême, Rob Mazurek, Matthew Shipp, Irish multi-instrumentalist Aine O'Dwyer, Cuban pianist Aruán Ortiz, Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia, and Satoko Fujii were just a few of the creative artists that gave life to singular global perspectives. (Selections are not ranked.)

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Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk

Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The most fitting tribute to Thelonious Monk on the 100th anniversary of his birth was not by a pianist, but by a trumpeter, and not any ordinary trumpeter. Wadada Leo Smith, like Monk, is a musician's musician. While his peers have seemingly always investigated his music, it took the listening audience (and, ahem, critics) awhile to catch up on his music. After his Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2013, for Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012), the proverbial flood gates opened on ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

Read "Najwa" reviewed by John Sharpe

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 ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

Read "Najwa" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

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 ...

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Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk

Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" reviewed by John Sharpe

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). ...


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