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...

431

Wadada Leo Smith: Spiritual Dimensions

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith blows in two different directions on this two-CD set, Spiritual Dimensions. The recording is comprised of two live sets, one by Wadada Leo Smith's ongoing Golden Quintet, the second by his new Wadada Leo Smith's Organic.

The Golden Quartet, recently expanded to quintet, changes players with time. The line-up that recorded The Year of the Elephant (Pi Recordings, 2002) included drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Anthony Davis and bassist Malachi Favors. Two of the players from the group that recorded the splendid Tabligh (Cuneiform Records, 2008)—keyboardist Vijay Iyer and bassist John Lindberg—are back for Spiritual Dimensions, with drummers Pheeroan AkLaff and Famoudou Don Moye beefing up the horn-and-rhythm-section vehicle.

Smith is noted for his adventurous and unfettered free jazz approach. His Golden Quartet—and now Quintet—outings are some of his most accessible. That said, the live sound of Spiritual Dimensions has a freer, more abstract feeling than that of the group's previously mentioned recordings. The turbulence factor gets ratcheted up with the addition of the extra drummer, making the music sound darker, more foreboding.

"Al-Shadhili's Litany of the Sea: Sunrise" rumbles to life on bumping drums and a searching bass line before Smith blows in with a searing tone backed by a raindrop tinkling of Iyer's piano. And it should be noted that Iyer, when playing with Smith, sounds nothing like the Vijay Iyer of his Fieldwork recordings, his sideman work with Rudresh Mahanthappa or his own high momentum leader work. Indeed, the Golden Quintet, even with two drummers, makes music that seems set apart from the concept of time—drifting, scattered rhythms, unexpected, dreamscape interventions from Iyer and Smith, whose trumpet playing ranges from brassy and straight-ahead to echoing, to harsh and anguished.

The searching quality of the sound ends abruptly with the last Golden Quintet tune, "South Central L.A. Kulture." The group found what it was looking for, and it was the groove. Two minutes in, a deep, dense funk boils up, sounding like a rawer, meaner Miles Davis on On the Corner (Columbia Records, 1972), with Iyer synthesizing wah-wah guitar sounds from his keyboard, while Smith's trumpet also goes guitar-ish, with a sharp, stinging metallic sound on this fifteen minute-plus tour de force.

Wadada Leo Smith's Organic, goes deeper into the groove on the second disc. "South Central L.A. Kulture" is reprised, wandering longer in the beginning, then finding a thicker funk with four guitars, two basses, a cello and drums laying down a heavy trudging backdrop for Smith's piercing trumpet.

"Angela Davis," nineteen minutes of dance-inducing, bass-heavy groove—multiple guitars wailing, wah-wahing, slashing and slithering—serves as a highlight, if one must be chosen; and "Organic" opens like a mechanical wind chime in an electric church, with a crew of mechanic/priests tweaking the machinery until they mesh, once more, into a synchronization of the groove.

With the ambitious Spiritual Dimensions, Wadada Leo Smith has created a strangely entrancing music, and one of his finest recordings.

Track Listing: CD1:Al-Shadhili's Litany of the Sea: Sunrise; Pacifica; Umar at the Dome of the Rock, Parts 1 & 2; Crossing Sirat; South Central L.A. Kulture. CD2: South Central L.A. Kulture; Anglela Davis; Organic; Joy: Spiritual Fire: Joy.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Vijay Iyer: piano and synthesizer (CD1); John Lindberg: bass (CD1); Pheeroan Aklaff: drums; Don Moye: drums (CD1)l Michael Gregory: electric guitar (CD2); Brandon Ross: electric guitar (CD2); Nels Cline: 6 and 12 string electric guitars (CD2); Lamar Smith: electric guitar (CD2#1, CD2#4); Okkyung Lee: cello CD2); Skuli Sverrisson: electric bass (CD2); John Lindberg: acoustic bass (CD2).

Title: Spiritual Dimensions | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

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

CD/LP/Track Review
Best of / Year End
Multiple Reviews
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Live From New York
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track 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
America’s National Parks

America’s National...

Cuneiform Records
2016

buy
America's National Parks

America's National...

Cuneiform Records
2016

buy
Date Detail Price
Jan26Sat
7:00 pm
Wadada Leo Smith: America's National Parks
The Appel Room
New York, NY

Related Articles

Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
Pillars
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Es:sensual" CD/LP/Track Review Es:sensual
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Fullmoon" CD/LP/Track Review Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller" CD/LP/Track Review Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "Rogue Star" CD/LP/Track Review Rogue Star
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2018
Read "Decay Of The Angel" CD/LP/Track Review Decay Of The Angel
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 14, 2018
Read "Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Manhattan
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 1, 2018