Wadada Leo Smith

Last updated
Wadada Leo Smith
Wadada Leo Smith.jpg
Photo by Tom Beetz
Background information
Born (1941-12-18) December 18, 1941 (age 80)
Leland, Mississippi, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • composer
Instrument(s)Trumpet
Website www.wadadaleosmith.com

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith (born December 18, 1941) [1] is an American trumpeter and composer, working primarily in the fields of avant-garde jazz and free improvisation. [2] He was one of three finalists for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Ten Freedom Summers , released on May 22, 2012. [3]

Contents

Biography

Smith was born in Leland, Mississippi, United States. [1] He started out playing drums, mellophone, and French horn before he settled on the trumpet. He played in various R&B groups and, by 1967, became a member of the AACM and co-founded the Creative Construction Company, a trio with Leroy Jenkins and Anthony Braxton. [1] In 1971, Smith formed his own label, Kabell. [1] He also formed another band, the New Dalta Ahkri, with members including Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis and Oliver Lake. [1]

In the 1970s, Smith studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. He played again with Anthony Braxton, as well as recording with Derek Bailey's Company. [1] In the mid-1980s, Smith became Rastafarian and began using the name Wadada. [1] In 1993, he began teaching at Cal Arts, [2] a position he held until 2014. In addition to trumpet and flugelhorn, Smith plays several world music instruments, including the koto, kalimba, and atenteben (Ghanaian bamboo flute). He has also taught courses in instrument making. His compositions often use a graphic notation system he calls "Ankhrasmation", which he developed in 1970. [1]

In 1998, Smith and guitarist Henry Kaiser released Yo, Miles!, a tribute to Miles Davis's then-lesser-known 1970s electric period. [2] On this album, Smith, Kaiser and a large cast of musicians recorded cover versions and original compositions inspired by Miles's electric music. [2] The follow-ups Sky Garden (released by Cuneiform in 2004) and Upriver (released in 2005) were recorded with a different cast of musicians. [2] Both line-ups featured Michael Manring on bass.

Smith's Golden Quartet (with which he has released several albums) originally featured Jack DeJohnette on drums, Anthony Davis on keyboards, and Malachi Favors on bass. [2] After several iterations, the Golden Quartet now features Pheeroan akLaff on drums, John Lindberg on bass, and Davis on piano. [2]

During the 2000s, Smith recorded albums for John Zorn's label Tzadik, as well as Pi Recordings. In 2008, he and his Golden Quartet released a DVD entitled Freedom Now. [2]

Smith has lived in New Haven, Connecticut for many years, a city where he helped create a prominent culture for creative music. [4]

Discography

Wadada Leo Smith, Vision XIII Festival Wadada Leo Smith DSC0190a 2.jpg
Wadada Leo Smith, Vision XIII Festival

As leader/co-leader

Compilations

As sideman

With Muhal Richard Abrams

With Marion Brown

With Anthony Braxton

With Creative Construction Company

With Andrew Cyrille

With Leroy Jenkins

With Henry Kaiser

With Bill Laswell

With Frank Lowe

With Maurice McIntyre

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Matthew Shipp

With Spring Heel Jack

With John Zorn

Related Research Articles

Mark Dresser is an American double bass player and composer.

Roscoe Mitchell Musical artist

Roscoe Mitchell is an American composer, jazz instrumentalist, and educator, known for being "a technically superb – if idiosyncratic – saxophonist". The Penguin Guide to Jazz described him as "one of the key figures" in avant-garde jazz; All About Jazz stated in 2004 that he had been "at the forefront of modern music" for more than 35 years. Critic Jon Pareles in The New York Times has mentioned that Mitchell "qualifies as an iconoclast". In addition to his own work as a bandleader, Mitchell is known for cofounding the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

Andrew Cyrille American avant-garde jazz drummer

Andrew Charles Cyrille is an American avant-garde jazz drummer. Throughout his career, he has performed both as a leader and a sideman in the bands of Walt Dickerson and Cecil Taylor, among others. AllMusic biographer Chris Kelsey wrote: "Few free-jazz drummers play with a tenth of Cyrille's grace and authority. His energy is unflagging, his power absolute, tempered only by an ever-present sense of propriety."

Anthony Davis is an American pianist and composer. He incorporates several styles including jazz, rhythm 'n' blues, gospel, non-Western, African, European classical, Indonesian gamelan, and experimental music. He has played with several groups and is also professor of music at University of California, San Diego.

Kenny Wheeler Musical artist

Kenneth Vincent John Wheeler, OC was a Canadian composer and trumpet and flugelhorn player, based in the U.K. from the 1950s onwards.

George E. Lewis Musical artist

George Emanuel Lewis is an American composer, performer, and scholar of experimental music. He has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, when he joined the organization at the age of 19. He is renowned for his work as an improvising trombonist and considered a pioneer of computer music, which he began pursuing in the late 1970s; in the 1980s he created Voyager, an improvising software he has used in interactive performances. Lewis's many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music received the American Book Award. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music, Composition & Historical Musicology at Columbia University.

Henry Kaiser (musician) American guitarist, film director, and scientific diver

Henry Kaiser is an American guitarist and composer, known as an idiosyncratic soloist, a sideman, an ethnomusicologist, and a film score composer. Recording and performing prolifically in many styles of music, Kaiser is a fixture on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. He is considered a member of the "second generation" of American free improvisers. He is married to Canadian artist Brandy Gale. He is the son of Henry J. Kaiser Jr. and the grandson of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.

Marilyn Crispell American jazz pianist and composer

Marilyn Crispell is an American jazz pianist and composer. Scott Yanow described her as "a powerful player... who has her own way of using space... She is near the top of her field." Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote: "Hearing Marilyn Crispell play solo piano is like monitoring an active volcano... She is one of a very few pianists who rise to the challenge of free jazz." In addition to her own extensive work as a soloist or bandleader, Crispell is also known as a longtime member of saxophonist Anthony Braxton's quartet in the 1980s and '90s.

Vijay Iyer is an American composer, pianist, bandleader, producer, and writer based in New York City. The New York Times has called him a "social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway." Iyer received a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. He was voted Jazz Artist of the Year in the Downbeat Magazine international critics' polls in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2018. In 2014 he received a lifetime appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University, where he is jointly appointed in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies.

Discography for jazz saxophonist Anthony Braxton.

Malachi Favors Musical artist

Malachi Favors was an American jazz bassist who played with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

John Lindberg (jazz musician) American musician

John Lindberg is an American jazz double-bassist.

Pheeroan akLaff American jazz drummer

Pheeroan akLaff is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He began playing in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan and Ann Arbor, with R & B keyboardist Travis Biggs, funk keyboardist Nimrod “The Grinder” Lumpkin, The Ebony Set and The Last Days. He moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and formed a group with saxophonist/flautist/percussionist Dwight Andrews. He debuted with saxophonist Bill Barron in 1975, followed by a tenure in Leo Smith's ‘New Dalta Ahkri’ (1977-1979).

Thurman Barker American jazz drummer

Thurman Barker is an American jazz drummer.

Joe Fonda Musical artist

Joe Fonda is an American jazz bassist.

Hugh Ragin American jazz trumpeter

Hugh Ragin is an American jazz trumpeter.

Phillip Sanford Wilson was an American blues and jazz drummer, a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

<i>Creative Music - 1</i> 1972 studio album by Wadada Leo Smith

Creative Music - 1 is the first recording as a leader by American jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, which was released in 1972 on his own, privately pressed label Kabell. Subtitled "Six Solo Improvisations", the album featured Smith solo using trumpet, flugelhorn and various drums, gongs, bells, and home made percussion. It was reissued in 2004 as part of the four-CD box Kabell Years: 1971-1979, released by John Zorn's imprint Tzadik Records.

Brandon K. Ross is an American jazz guitarist. He was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

<i>Kabell Years: 1971–1979</i> 2004 compilation album by Wadada Leo Smith

Kabell Years: 1971–1979 is a four-CD box set released on Tzadik Records compiling American jazz trumpeter/composer/inmproviser Wadada Leo Smith's earliest albums which were originally released on his own, privately pressed label Kabell along with additional previously unissued material from the same era. The set includes the previously released material from Creative Music - 1, Reflectativity, Song of Humanity and Solo Music: Ahkreanvention.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 371/2. ISBN   0-85112-580-8.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Wadada Leo Smith | Biography". AllMusic . 1941-12-18. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  3. "The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  4. "Four Score: A Conversation with Wadada Leo Smith on Turning 80 (Part One)". PostGenre. 12 December 2021. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  5. "Wadada Leo Smith And N'da Kulture:Golden Hearts Remembrance, by Chap Chap Records". Chap Chap Records. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  6. "The Year of The Elephant, by Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet". Wadada Leo Smith. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  7. "Wisdom in Time, by WADADA LEO SMITH". Günter Baby Sommer. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  8. "Nessuno, by Pauline Oliveros + Roscoe Mitchell + John Tilbury + Wadada Leo Smith (IDA 035 – 2016)". i dischi di angelica. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  9. "Ten Freedom Summers, by Wadada Leo Smith". Cuneiform Records. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  10. "Red Hill, by Wadada Leo Smith / Jamie Saft / Joe Morris / Balazs Pandi". Joe Morris / Riti / Glacial Erratic. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  11. "America's National Parks, by Wadada Leo Smith". Cuneiform Records. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  12. "Aspiration, by Satoko Fujii, Wadada Leo Smith, Natsuki Tamura, Ikue Mori". Satoko Fujii. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  13. "The Haunt, by Bobby Naughton, Wadada Leo Smith, Perry Robinson". NoBusiness Records. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  14. "Pacific Light and Water/Wu Xing – Cycle of Destruction, by Wadada Leo Smith / Barry Schrader". Barry Schrader. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  15. "Sun Beans of Shimmering Light, by Wadada Leo Smith / Douglas R. Ewart / Mike Reed". Wadada Leo Smith / Douglas R. Ewart / Mike Reed. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  16. "YO MILES! Lightning, by Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith". Henry Kaiser. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  17. "YO MILES! Shinjuku, by Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith". Henry Kaiser. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  18. "The Stone – April 22, 2014, by Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Laswell". M.O.D. Reloaded. Retrieved 2021-03-07.