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...

6

Wadada Leo Smith: Red Hill

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
A first time meeting in the studio pitches avant-garde trumpet master Wadada Leo Smith against a crew of improvisers who cover diverse bases. All three of Smith's collaborators work together in Slobber Pup, what you might term a thinking man's noise band, as well as overlapping in a range of other outfits including Metallic Taste of Blood and Spanish Donkey. Best known in jazz circles will be Joe Morris, here on double bass, and keyboardist Jamie Saft who features in multiple John Zorn projects including Electric Masada, and contributes piano to Smith's Lake Biwa (Tzadik, 2002). Bringing up the rear is Hungarian grindcore and improv drummer Balazs Pandi.

Together they create six intense and densely voiced collective improvisations. Ambient mood and texture is as important as rhythm or counterpoint. Pandi in particular forces the pace with his non-stop barrage, as bass and drums form a clattering wall of sound. Saft's keyboards variously match or oppose and at times he resorts to a series of glissandos to cut through. Smith meanwhile is imperious, interacting with the others predominantly by taking an opposing stance The default position is manifest in the tension generated by the contrast between Smith's poised trumpet fanfares and the choppy continuous backing, prominent on "Gneiss," "Janus Face" and parts of "Agpaitic."

"Tragic Wisdom" offers a welcome variation of approaches and convergence of intent. After starting with piano runs atop tumbling drums and bass, Smith mixes ascending arpeggios and darting lines. He becomes even more assertive later, as his brass wheezes, breathes and squeals over open but squally buttressing. "Debts of Honor" continues in a similar vein, with languid trumpet over rattling cymbals, sparse piano droplets and craggy bass with Smith turning especially animated and amplified in the tumultuous final section, while "Arfvedsonite" signals a return to the initial gambit of heraldic figures over churning accompaniment. It's a solid enough date, but doesn't scale the heights of Great Lakes Suite (Tum, 2014), Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012) or Spiritual Dimensions (Cuneiform, 2009).

Track Listing: Gneiss; Janus Face; Agpaitic; Tragic Wisdom; Debts Of Honor; Arfvedsonite.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith,trumpet; Jamie Saft, piano, Fender Rhodes; Joe Morris, double bass; Balazs Pandi, drums.

Title: Red Hill | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Rosa Parks: Pure Love

Rosa Parks: Pure Love

Wadada Leo Smith
Rosa Parks: Pure Love

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

Album Reviews
Year in Review
Multiple Reviews
Year in Review
Album Reviews
Live From New York
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Year in 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

Related Articles

Read Live at Frankie's Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at Frankie's Jazz Club
By Jack Bowers
March 24, 2019
Read Asperger Album Reviews
Asperger
By Don Phipps
March 24, 2019
Read The Fire Each Time Album Reviews
The Fire Each Time
By Mark Corroto
March 24, 2019
Read NauMay Album Reviews
NauMay
By Jerome Wilson
March 24, 2019
Read Molly Tigre Album Reviews
Molly Tigre
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 24, 2019
Read School of Fish Album Reviews
School of Fish
By Dan McClenaghan
March 23, 2019
Read Blood Album Reviews
Blood
By John Sharpe
March 23, 2019