104

Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet: The Year Of The Elephant

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet: The Year Of The Elephant The aptly named Golden Quartet is either dubbed for the golden years of these four jazzmen, or perhaps it is the simple musical lines they have spun into an alloy of precious sound.

The quartet’s impressive resume is beyond doubt. Wadada Leo Smith was a member of Chicago’s AACM and bands of Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins. Malachi Favors likewise played a part in the AACM before his days in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Pianist Anthony Davis has established himself as a modern composer, these days writing operas. Finally drummer Jack DeJohnette gained fame with Miles Davis’ electric bands before his own career and now lengthy stay with Keith Jarrett’s standard’s trio.

Assembled for the self-titled Golden Quartet (Tzadik 2000), Smith’s band is anything but a ‘supergroup.’ The critically acclaimed 2000 session is now followed by what should be a popular success. Where their previous effort opted for intellectual pursuits, The Year Of The Elephant strives to be people music (music of the people). Like Smith’s 1998 Yo, Miles! (Shanachie) the starting point here is Miles Davis.

Miles inspires the opening and closing tracks. “Al-Madinah” shares that electric vamp that permeated everything Miles seemed to do in the late-sixties and early 1970s and the closer “Miles Star In 3 Parts” begins with inspiration from the second great quintet only to amble (in the 14-minute track) into a kind of folk music. Smith’s trumpet has that Miles’ brittle and very human sound going here. You can savor the whisper, the growl and the muted fragments. Backed by these musicians, Smith looses the silly looseness that was Yo, Miles! for a proper story telling session.

Bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Jack DeJohnette sound as if they have been playing together for years. Their exchange on the title track with its swift time change is vitally organic. As is Davis’ piano duo with Smith on “Kangaroo’s Hollow.” The two musicians interchange the lead throughout, playing off the last thought and urging the next.

This music belongs not in the jazz section, but the folk bin. The Golden Quartet draws from a shared modern experience of sound, seamlessly joining jazz with the shared musical experiences of these fine players.


Track Listing: Al-Madinah; Piru; The Zamzam Well A Stream Of A Pure Light; Kangaroo

Personnel: Malachi Favors Maghostut

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Pi Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "Bridges From The East" CD/LP/Track Review Bridges From The East
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 29, 2016
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Sounds of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds of 3
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "88" CD/LP/Track Review 88
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!