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...

11

Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
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 Monk, while the other is an open-ended ensemble endeavor where the hornman's collaborators think and play as freely as he. Mirror images of each other, Reflections and Meditations on Monk and Najwa respectively capture both the scope and concentration of this unnaturally gifted musician, the clarity of which promises enduring listening experiences.

Wadada Leo Smith
Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
TUM Records
2017

Wadada Leo Smith radiates a decidedly somber, contemplative image in person and in photographs, but, as in the portrait set within the rich color scheme of this lavishly-designed CD package, there's usually the faint hint of a smile on his face. And a comparable subtlety comes through clearly via the dual methods by which he connects with Monk's music here: whether with full-blown gusto or a proportionate delicacy, his lithe, dignified playing evokes the whimsical aspect of the late pianist/composer's own material ("Crepuscule With Nellie") as well as the abiding respect he affords this jazz icon during his own compositions, like the cryptically-titled ("Monk and Bud Powell at Shea Stadium -A Mystery"). On both fronts, Smith vividly evokes not only the essence of the jazz icon he honors, but his own redoubtable creativity as well.

Wadada Leo Smith
Najwa
TUM Records
2017

The clarion call the bandleader sounds with his horn to open Najwa immediately gives way to an eruption of improvisation that continues virtually uninterrupted throughout the near-sixty minute duration of the album. With four guitarists plying their bountiful imaginations here, it might all sound too cerebral for its own good if it were not for the heated rhythmic flow generated by bassist Bill Laswell, drummer Pheeroan aklaff and percussionist Adam Rudolph. Yet the octet's performances on this handful of Wadada Leo Smith originals actually reach peak potency because of the subsequent mixing and editing; the production thus maximizes the natural ebb and flow of the musicianship in such a way it so accurately mirrors the detailed design of the CD packaging, this title, like its companion piece, looks and sounds like fine art.

Tracks and Personnel

Solo:Reflections and Meditations on Monk

Tracks: Ruby, My Dear; Monk and His Five Point Ring at the Five Spot Café; Reflections; Adagio: Monkishness -A Cinematic Vision of Monk Playing Solo Piano; Crepuscule with Nellie; Adagio: Monk, the Composer in Sepia -A Second Vision Thelonious Monk; Monk and Bud Powell at Shea Stadium -A Mystery; ´Round Midnight..

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet.

Najwa

Tracks: 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.

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

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

Shop

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

Related Articles

Read Evan Parker and Paul G. Smyth on Weekertoft Multiple Reviews
Evan Parker and Paul G. Smyth on Weekertoft
By John Eyles
February 17, 2019
Read The Grammys' Failure To Recognize 2018's Greatest Rock Records Multiple Reviews
The Grammys' Failure To Recognize 2018's Greatest Rock Records
By John Bricker
February 16, 2019
Read Stefan Pasborg: A Drummer’s World of Vinyl Multiple Reviews
Stefan Pasborg: A Drummer’s World of Vinyl
By Jakob Baekgaard
February 5, 2019
Read Big Star: Live-r Than They Ever Were Multiple Reviews
Big Star: Live-r Than They Ever Were
By Doug Collette
February 2, 2019
Read Allison Miller: Modern Jazz Icon in the Making Multiple Reviews
Allison Miller: Modern Jazz Icon in the Making
By Doug Collette
February 1, 2019
Read Winter 2019 Multiple Reviews
Winter 2019
By Doug Collette
January 26, 2019