Album Review

Smith, Wadada Leo – “Ten Freedom Summers” – [Cuneiform Records]

Thee Opinataur   6/22/2012   CD, Jazz

Recorded in Nov. 2011 Ten Freedom Summers is quite possibly Wadada Leo Smith at his artistic peak. Performing with his Golden Quartet of Smith on Trumpet, Anthony Davis ??piano, John Lindberg bass, Pheeroan akLaff and Susie Ibarra drums. In addition the nine piece Southwest Chamber Music conducted by Jeff von der Schmidt merges jazz and classical to brilliant perfection. In the works since 1977, Smith composes 19 pieces in 3 collections consisting of 1)10 years of the civil rights movement 1954-64 2) Defining Moments in America 3) What is Democracy? Inspired by Max Roach’s “Freedom Now” as well as Duke’s “Sacred Concerts”, it was actually playwright August Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle” that helped Smith architect this work. There is indeed improvisation throughout as well as composed pieces in which Smith allows notated unrestricted freedom. Smith conducts masterfully leading with his introspective muted play. There is a deep interwoven melancholic sadness, emotional rage, minimalist peacefulness, but the best spots are the contemplative silent ones as they speak louder then any high C that Smith would dare to hit on his trumpet. Smith says that he tried to compose a psychological impact of the civil rights movement in American society, yet these pieces accomplish so much more of the philosophical, social and political history on an exhaustive emotional platform. With 4 CD’s and nearly 5 hours of music, to take it all in at once is an experience everyone should do once in their life.

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