All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

1,442

Wadada Leo Smith: A Vital Life Force

Lyn Horton By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
"To teach and create and not expect or demand anything in return."—Wadada Leo Smith, quoted in an article printed in The Houston Chronicle, November 4, 2006

On the nine-by-eleven inch cover of the February, 2010, issue of Wire magazine is a full-page photo of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Only the upper half of his body is pictured. He is wearing a dark blue, nearly black, Mandarin collar jacket, which stands out against the dimly lit, grey stucco wall that acts as the photo's background. His black dreadlocks drape softly over his shoulders and behave like a hood covering his head. His arms are lifted slightly away from his body; his hands are held in a meditational mudra, his thumbs and index fingers delicately touching. Graced by a black-speckled white full beard, Smith's face exudes warmth. His lips are pursed a bit; his smiling eyes are cast upward to the right towards the sky. He appears as though he is a monk, who has come into the light, to share his wisdom with the world.



Smith speaks in his own vernacular. His voice is not loud, does not have a consistently high or low tone, but is often emphatic. His words are pronounced with vestiges of a Mississippian accent. He carefully shapes his thoughts. The cadence of his delivery at times simulates his music. He repeats phrases as if to sing choruses of a song. When he laughs, he expresses joy and transmits the innocence that laces his creativity. His name appropriately means "love" in the Amharic language.


Related Video

Shop For Jazz

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Best of / Year End
Read more articles
Celestial Weather
Celestial Weather
TUM Records
2016
buy
The Nile
The Nile
Hardedge
2015
buy
The Great Lakes Suites
The Great Lakes Suites
TUM Records
2015
buy
Red Hill
Red Hill
RareNoiseRecords
2015
buy
The Great Lakes Suites
The Great Lakes Suites
TUM Records
2014
buy
Great Lakes Suite
Great Lakes Suite
TUM Records
2014
buy
Albert Ayler Albert Ayler
sax, tenor
Evan Parker Evan Parker
sax, tenor
Tim Berne Tim Berne
saxophone
Joe McPhee Joe McPhee
reeds
Derek Bailey Derek Bailey
guitar
David S. Ware David S. Ware
sax, tenor
Art Ensemble Of Chicago Art Ensemble Of Chicago
band/orchestra
Julius Hemphill Julius Hemphill
sax, alto

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.