Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith (born December 18, 1941) is an American trumpeter and composer, working primarily in the fields of avant-garde jazz and free improvisation. He was one of three finalists for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Ten Freedom Summers, released on May 22, 2012.
Provoked by the formal qualities of Jack Whitten’s art, and to honor the artist’s lifelong interest in experimental music, Dia has invited trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith to musically interpret Whitten’s Greek Alphabet paintings on view at Dia Beacon. This rare performance by one of the foremost figures in contemporary music will take place in the museum galleries.
(Vision Festival Day 1, Roulette, Brooklyn. 21 June 2022. Review by Dan Bergsagel) The first day of the 26th Annual Vision Festival celebrated Wadada Leo Smith by awarding him a Lifetime Achievement Award to honour his pivotal role in creative music (free jazz, essentially). There were two immediate conclusions from the evening’s showcase: that this award is being given to him just as much for his work as a composer and conductor as for his work as a musician.
LAXART | 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA 90038. Monday Evening Concerts is excited to join forces with LAXART to host one of our most important living composers, Wadada Leo Smith. An early member of the revolutionary AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), Smith has spent a lifetime thinking, writing, composing, performing, teaching and collaborating with musicians such as Leroy Jenkins, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis, Oliver Lake and Derek Bailey.
Pacifica Koral Reef, the latest album from composer and trumpetist Wadada Leo Smith alongside guitarists Henry Kaiser and Alex Varty, is presented as a single piece that unfolds over the course of 55 minutes, with each of the players delving deeply into free improvisation to unearth exciting and delightfully rich musical moments.
In the year leading up to his 80th birthday this past December, the ageless trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith released no less than three multi-disc boxed sets — including The Chicago Symphonies, a much-heralded four-CD set with his Great Lakes Quartet (featuring Henry Threadgill) — and two single discs, one of which, A Love Sonnet for.
The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top. Noteworthy. Trombone Shorty Shares New Video: Trombone Shorty has shared the video for “Come...
Now at 80 years of age, trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith refuses to narrow his expansive vision. The last 10 years have been the most prolific of his five-decade career, with multiple releases per year, many of them epic in both concept and scale. He’s a player with an incisive and expressive tone that maintains a soulful touch even in his music’s most daring and abstract ventures. “The thing that makes my work different is the way in which I dream,” Smith explains. “I don’t mean sleep dream, I mean creatively dream.”
Almost every work of art grapples with this notion in one way or another, but few take it on explicitly. Wadada Leo Smith’s Chicago Symphonies is one of those few. Smith builds this monument brick by brick, movement by movement, honoring great figures of Midwest America — for the most part avant-garde jazz people of his native Chicago. It is another skyscraper for the city where the skyscraper was invented.
Free jazz and serenity aren’t often be considered complementary propositions. A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday offers an exception to that notion as three improvisatory masters join forces for the first time. For trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, this isn’t his first turn at mining inspiration from Lady Day, but continues his streak of channeling something of her mournful strength through his instrument.
Arts for Art will honor two foundational Free Jazz musicians during the 26th Annual Vision Festival this summer. Wadada Leo Smith, as a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (Chicago), and Oliver Lake, as a founding member of Black Artist Group (St. Louis), forged an inclusive path for the independent cultivation of radical black arts. Many artists and organizations, Arts for Art included, continue to navigate the terrains made clearer by their on-going legacies.
As he approached his eightieth birthday, Wadada Leo Smith could have been content to sit out the year of nothingness that Covid-19 brought in 2020 and beyond. With his 2013 Pulitzer Prize nomination, a 2016 Doris Duke Award, and nearly one-hundred recording credits, the trumpeter & multi-instrumentalist has landed at the top of countless polls throughout his distinguished career. But, stepping away from the music, if only for a brief respite, is not part of the improviser’s plan so, in the first half of 2021, Smith gives us two TUM Records box sets. Here, the focus is on his three-disc release, Sacred Ceremonies.
Improvising on trumpet and two guitars, the avant-garde composer and his collaborators mourn the natural world while asking us to forget what we know about conventional musical hierarchies. With abstract jazz, Wadada Leo Smith writes eulogies. Since 2012’s rapturously received Ten Freedom Summers, his records have memorialized Civil Rights heroes,...
In a career that spans seven decades, starting in 1967 when he moved to Chicago and met saxophonist Anthony Braxton and violinist Leroy Jenkins, Wadada Leo Smith has compiled a vertiginous tower of work: Solo trumpet albums as emotive as they are virtuosic. Rigorously inventive small groups, some of which employ his unique “language scores”
Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended. Straegor – Crypt of the Baleful...
The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top. Noteworthy. New Wadada Leo Smith 80th Birthday Celebration Video: Trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith shared...
Many people, as they get older, tend to slow down and reduce their workload. Some even step aside and retire entirely. Wadada Leo Smith takes the opposite approach. Over the past year, Smith has been perhaps more productive than ever. 2021 has found him behind a 3 CD solo trumpet box set (Trumpet (TUM, 2021)), a series of duets and trio with Bill Laswell and the late Milford Graves (Sacred Ceremonies (TUM, 2021)), a trio with Mike Reed and Douglas R. Ewart (Sunbeams of Shimmering Light (Astral Spirits, 2021)), a trio with Jack DeJohnette and Vijay Iyer (A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday (TUM, 2021)), and a second multi-disc outing of his Great Lakes Quartet featuring Henry Threadgill, DeJohnette, and John Lindberg (The Chicago Symphonies (TUM, 2021)). It seems he will be just as prolific in 2022, including releasing an album featuring compositions he has been working on for almost sixty years. In the interim, he will be having a special concert performance – available on his website and Youtube – on his 80th Birthday, December 18th.
Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, who turned 80 earlier this year, is seemingly at the height of his creative life—despite having already catalogued decades of accomplishments across dozens of releases, both in the company of AACM masters and as a bandleader. In May he issued a pair of three-disc sets, one focused on solo trumpet and the other on his work with bassist Bill Laswell and late drummer Milford Graves. He’s since put out a recording with Chicago players (Sun Beans of Shimmering Light with Douglas R. Ewart and Mike Reed), worked with larger New York ensembles (including during a residency at the New School), premiered compositions for strings, and livestreamed several concerts. On his new Pacifica Koral Reef, Smith collaborates with a pair of guitarists, west-coast improviser Henry Kaiser and Canadian arts critic Alex Varty. The trio adhere to the path set out in one of Smith’s visual scores, a system the trumpeter developed more than 50 years ago and has dubbed “Ankhrasmation.” The lone 55-minute track that comprises Pacifica Koral Reef is related to the ideas and emotions summoned during Varty and Kaiser’s regular diving trips in British Columbia’s Salish Sea and under the ice in Antarctica, respectively. Varty opens the album with delicate guitar soli, and for almost ten minutes he creates a calming sense of peaceful expansiveness. Smith’s entrance on the track doesn’t erase that feeling; instead his burnished brass complements Varty’s strings with yelps and wavering long tones. The eventual addition of what sounds like pitched electronics (actually Kaiser’s guitar) puts listeners on notice: Pacifica Koral Reef offers a singular approach to electroacoustic improvisation. While Kaiser cuts loose at times, Pacifica Koral Reef is a rare glimpse at a trio largely denying the extremes frequently associated with orchestrated improvisation, as each player swims through Smith’s score and embraces a liquid sense of time.
Wadada Leo Smith has turned 80. Eli Keszler’s new one is reviewed. The debut from cr-ow trio is reviewed. Rogue Art is releasing a new album from Juma Sultan, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Bisio, and Joe McPhee. Black Editions is putting out a 2002 recording of Peter Brotzmann, William Parker,...
All About Jazz is celebrating Wadada Leo Smith's birthday today!. ISHMAEL WADADA LEO SMITH trumpet-player, multi- instrumentalist, composer and improviser has been active in the creative contemporary world music for over thirty years. His theory of Jazz and World music was significant in his music development as an artist and educator.
Arts for Art will present the 26th VISION Festival at Roulette, from June 21 through June 25, and the festival finale will once again take place outdoors at The Clemente on June 26. It is with great excitement that we announce that trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, Wadada Leo Smith will receive the Vision Festival’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award on June 21, 2022. Mr. Smith joins a venerable pantheon of FreeJazz pioneers in receiving the Vision Festival Lifetime Achievement Award including Amina Claudine Myers, Andrew Cyrille, Peter Brotzmann, Henry Grimes, Milford Graves, and Sam Rivers. On this special occasion, Mr. Smith will present new work for the opening night of the festival. His performance at Vision will serve to punctuate a remarkable milestone, 80 years, in a career full of enough achievements for several lifetimes.