Drawing on American creative music, Mbira music of Zimbabwe, and traditional Chinese music, trumpeter Leo Smith's ensemble with drummer Pheeroan akLaff and pipa player Min Xiao-Fen perform 5 extraordinary compositions of lyrical vision.
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Catalog ID: 23
Squidco Product Code: 15631
Packaging: Digipack with booklet
Recorded on January 24 and 25, 2007 by Esa Santonen at SoundTeam Godzinsky Studio, Kirkkonummi, Finland.
Wadada Leo Smith-trumpet, flugelhorn
Min Ziao-Fen-pipa, voice
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1. Sarah Bell Wallace 11:55
2. Blues: Cosmic Beauty 10:33
3. Zulu Water Festival 6:33
4. Dark Lady Of The Sonnets 10:59
5. Mbira 16:12
Cultural Musics from Around the World
sample the album:
"Wadada Leo Smith's Mbira is an ensemble that works within the idiom of American creative music but also in the realms of the Mbira music of Shona culture in Zimbabwe and even traditional Chinese music. With pipa player Min Xiao-Fen and drummer Pheeroan akLaff, Wadada Leo Smith has produced an album that is powerful and instantly captivating, ancient and contemporary at the same time. Dark Lady of the Sonnets contains five compositions by Smith, ranging from a memorial for his late mother Sarah Bell Wallace to the title-track inspired by the great Billie Holiday."-Tum
"Put on a record by Wadada Leo Smith, and each time you will lifted up into a different dimension, out of your daily routine, not into the mindlessness of relaxation entertainment, but into a realm rich in soul and spirituality, whether it's his funky electric Miles tribute albums, the sound universe of complex mastership with his Golden Quartet music, or his meditative and bluesy duo albums.
Smith's incredible strength is to suck the listener into his music ... deeply ... He can create a sound that makes the listener think "yes, I feel this too, this is me, yet I never managed to express it", whether joy, or aesthetic beauty, or peaceful calm or restless tribal energy.
On this album his powerful and uplifting trumpet songs are accompanied by Pheeroan akLaff on drums and Min Xiao-Fen on the Chinese pippa.The voice of the latter instrument is weak compared to the percussion and the trumpet, but yet the excellent sound quality compensates for that, together with the space Smith gives his trio and the solid unity of musical vision among the three artists. On the title track, a tribute to Billie Holiday, the vulnerable fragility is almost palpable, and you can only admire the akLaff's restraint in working his drums, barely audible, yet adding the necessary drama to the singing of voice and trumpet.
There is not much to say about the music, you should listen to it.
As I wrote earlier somewhere about his music : cosmic, rooted in the earth and so deeply human. A rare combination. [...]"-Stef, Free Jazz Stef
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• Show Bio for Wadada Leo Smith
"Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith: trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser has been active in creative contemporary music for over forty years. His systemic music language Ankhrasmation is significant in his development as an artist and educator.
Born in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began in the high school concert and marching bands. At the age of thirteen, he became involved with the Delta Blues and Improvisation music traditions. He received his formal musical education with his stepfather Alex Wallace, the U.S. Military band program (1963), Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76). Mr. Smith has studied a variety of music cultures: African, Japanese, Indonesian, European and American.
He has taught at the University of New Haven (1975-'76), the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY (1975-'78), and Bard College (1987-'93). He is currently a faculty member at The Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts. He is the director of the African-American Improvisational Music program, and is a member of ASCAP, Chamber Music America, and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Mr. Smith's awards and commissions include: MAP Fund Award for "Ten Freedom Summers" (2011), Chamber Music America New Works Grant (2010), NEA Recording Grant (2010), Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2009-2010), Other Minds residency and "Taif", a string quartet commission (2008), Fellow of the Jurassic Foundation (2008), FONT(Festival of New Trumpet) Award of Recognition (2008), Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award (2005), Islamic World Arts Initiative of Arts International (2004), Fellow of the Civitela Foundation (2003), Fellow at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2001), "Third Culture Copenhagen" in Denmark-presented a paper on Ankhrasmation (1996), Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program (1996), Asian Cultural Council Grantee to Japan (June-August 1993), Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program (1990), New York Foundation on the Arts Fellowship in Music (1990), Numerous Meet the Composer Grants (since 1977), and National Endowment for the Arts Music Grants (1972, 1974, 1981).
Mr. Smith's music philosophy Notes (8 Pieces) Source a New. World Music: Creative Music has been published by Kiom Press (1973), translated and published in Japan by Zen-On Music Company Ltd. (1976). In 1981 Notes was translated into Italian and published by Nistri-Litschi Editori.
He was invited to a conference of artists, scientists and philosophers "Third Culture Copenhagen" in Denmark 1996, and presented a paper on his Ankhrasmation music theory and notational system for creative musicians. His interview was recorded for Denmark T.V., broadcasted September 1996.
Some of the artists Mr. Smith has performed with are : Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Richard Teitelbaum, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrill, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Carla Bley, David Murray, Don Cherry, Jeanne Lee, Milton Campbell, Henry Brant, Richard Davis, Tadao Sawai, Ed Blackwell, Sabu Toyozumi, Peter Kowald, Kazuko Shiraishi, Han Bennink, Misja Mengelberg, Marion Brown, Kazutoki Umezu, Kosei Yamamoto, Charlie Haden, Kang Tae Hwan, Kim Dae Hwan, Tom Buckner, Malachi Favors Magoustous and Jack Dejohnette among many others.
Mr. Smith currently has three ensembles: Golden Quartet, Silver Orchestra, and Organic. His compositions have also been performed by other contemporary music ensembles: AACM-Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Da Capo Chamber Player, New Century Players, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Contemporary Chamber Players (University of Chicago), S.E.M. Ensemble, Southwest Chamber Music, Del Sol String Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, ne(x)tworks, and California E.A.R. Unit.
Mr. Smith's music for multi-ensembles has been performed since 1969. "Tabligh" for double-ensemble was performed by Golden Quartet and Classical Persian ensemble at Merkin Concert Hall (2006) and by Golden Quartet and Suleyman Erguner's Classical Turkish ensemble at Akbank Music Festival in Istanbul (2007). His largest work "Odwira" for 12 multi-ensembles (52 instrumentalists) was performed at California Institute of the Arts (March 1995). His Noh piece "Heart Reflections" was performed in Merkin Concert Hall, NY (November 1996)."-Wadada Leo Smith Website (http://www.wadadaleosmith.com/pages/bio.html)
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• Show Bio for Pheeroan akLaff
"Pheeroan akLaff was born in Detroit, Michigan January 27, 1955, and named Paul, by his parents in honor of Paul Robeson one of their favorite musicians. Though his parents did not play instruments they enjoyed dancing with the Lunceford, Basie, Eckstein, and Ellington bands. His mother, distantly related to Wings Over Jordan choir director Glenn T. Settlle, was a fan of classical repertoire. His father is a Jazz fan and audiophile. This spawned a musical household in which all seven children had music lessons at some stage of their development. Eric, the eldest became a concert pianist and choir conductor.
Largely an autodidact, with some years at Eastern Michigan University, Pheeroan studied privately with Randall Hicks (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra), and "Pistol" Allen (Motown). Working in ensembles led by arranger Travis Biggs, at EMU brought about his first recording date; a 45rpm for local R&B singer Major Lasky titled Remember Me Always (1973), a favorite of radio station WGPR.
In 1975 he relocated to New Haven Connecticut, and while auditing the African Art class of Robert Ferris Thompson, akLaff established a connection with Rashied Ali, drummer of John Coltrane's late ensembles. While kindlling the band DejaVu with his peers, he also initiated a tenure with Wadada Leo Smith,introducing him to performances and recordings with Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Sonny Sharrock, Andrew Hill, Cecil Taylor, Yamashita Yosuke, Amiri Baraka, Liu Sola, Tom Pierson, and Anthony Braxton, among many internationally acclaimed composers.
As a young artist Pheeroan akLaff toured several countries of Africa, Asia and Europe. He produced a wave of Funk and Reggae influenced performances and recordings in the 1980's. after his Urban West African music immersion in Abidjan, Cote D"Ivoire with the Marie Rose Guiraud dance troupe. He met Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Sonny Okosun, and Steve Rhodes with scholar Dr. Frank T. Fairfax III, in Lagos Nigeria. He performed for the U.S. State Department with Oliver Lake and Jump Up; in Malawi, Swaziland, Cote D'Ivoire Togo and Liberia, and with Jay Hoggard; in Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt and India.
In the 1990's he presented his music ensembles at the Willisau festival of Switzerland, the Sju festival of the Netherlands, the Montsalvat festival of Australia, the Moers, and the Nurnberg festivals of Germany. He also led the Double Duo ensemble with two saxophonists; Mixashawn and Ravi Coltrane, and with two drummers; akLaff and his mentor Rashied Ali.
Pheeroan akLaff believes that the arts are a way to give thanks, and to work for change. His non-profit organization Seed Artists encorages education, mentorship and enlightenment through selective arts presentations. With Creative Director Chris Napierala he has recently presented music festivals and symposiums at William Patterson University, and Montclair State University, childrens writing workshops and community concerts at The Montclair Public Library, and community concerts at local galleries. In 2016- 2017 he will serve as curator at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in Queens, NY.
Since 1991. Mr.akLaff has taught drums and creative music to University students at New School University in New York, and at Wesleyan University in Connecticut."-Pheeroan akLaff Website (https://www.pheeroanaklaff.com/biography)
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