Smith, Wadada Leo / Douglas R. Ewart / Mike Reed
Sun Beans of Shimmering Light
Brass, winds and percussion bring a beautiful dialog of spiritually rich improvsations from the trio of Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, Douglas Ewart on reeds & wind instruments, and Mike Reed on drums, recording in the studio in 2015 for five contemplative, often meditative, yet always bold dialogs that use spacious and free timing that showcases each player's masterful skills.
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Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS166CD
Squidco Product Code: 30270
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded by Dave Zuchowski.
Wadada Leo Smith-trumpet
Douglas Ewart-reeds, wind instruments
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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 Douglas Ewart
"Perhaps best known as a composer, improviser, sculptor and maker of masks and instruments, Douglas R. Ewart is also an educator, lecturer, arts organization consultant and all around visionary. In projects done in diverse media throughout an award-winning and widely-acclaimed 40-year career, Mr. Ewart has woven his remarkably broad gifts into a single sensibility that encourages and celebrates--as an antidote to the divisions and compartmentalization afflicting modern life-the wholeness of individuals in culturally active communities.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1946, Douglas R. Ewart immigrated to Chicago, Illinois in the United States in 1963. His travels throughout the world and interactions with diverse people since then has, again and again confirmed his view that the world is an interdependent entity. An example of his efforts both to study and to contribute to this interdependence is his use of his prestigious 1987 U.S.-Japan Creative Arts Fellowship to study both modern Japanese culture and the traditional Buddhist shakuhachi flute, and also to give public performances while in Japan.
In America, his determination to spread his perspective is part of the inspiration behind his often multi-disciplinary works and their encouragement of artist-audience interactions. It is also the basis of the teaching philosophy with which he guides his classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he has taught since 1990, and the basis of the perspective he has brought to his service on advisory boards for institutions such as The National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer (New York City) and Arts Midwest. Mr. Ewart uses his past experience as chairman of the internationally renowned Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) to celebrate and build upon the history and achievements of the organization, and is from this perspective a natural extension of the activities he has been engaged in for the past four decades.
His administrative, teaching and other duties have not prevented Ewart from maintaining several musical ensembles, the Nyahbingi Drum Choir. the Clarinet Choir, Douglas R. Ewart & Inventions, Douglas R. Ewart & Quasar and Douglas R. Ewart & Stringnets. Nor has it prevented him from releasing some of the resulting music on his own record label, Aarawak Records (founded in 1983), which has released his Red Hills and Bamboo Forest, Bamboo Meditations at Banff, Angles of Entrance, New Beings, and Velvet Fire.Always seeking new ways to be an agent of transformation, and convinced that compositions should change, just as their performers do, Ewart has created new or revised musical forms, such has his suite "Music from the Bamboo Forest," which is in a state of constant evolution (its score currently comprises six movements employing a cornucopia of flutes, reeds, percussion instruments--many of them handmade -- and significant audience participation). Each performance or production by Ewart reflects time-tested structures, but each also incorporates his most immediate experiences of America and the world, and taps his many creative engagements with collaborators such the master musicians as Muhal Richard Abrams, Amina Myers, Beah Richards, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Alvin Curran, Anthony Davis, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, Joseph Jarman, Yusef Lateef, Roscoe Mitchell, Ajule Sonny Rutlin, Rita Warford, Dee Alexander, Robert Dick, George E. Lewis, James Newton, Cecil Taylor, Richard Teitelbaum and Henry Threadgill.
Beyond sound itself, Ewart's music finds natural extensions (in every sense of the word) in the instruments he makes, which run the gamut from unique wind instruments to percussion instruments. Beyond these are sculptures, sound sculptures, and individually handcrafted masks that have been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. All these elements of his art are on display every year in Chicago and in other cities in stagings of "Crepuscule," which in Ewart's own opinion best represents his celebratory spontaneity and commitment to organic inclusivity. A massive collective composition, "Crepuscule" is a celebration of sunset that brings together diverse musical groups, dancers, artists and activist for a musical and visual event that has become one of the signature programs of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, being held annually at the city's Washington Park. Ewart improvises with the scores of other performers who come together for "Crepuscule" by using not only well-known wind instruments but also his own wondrously inventive percussion instruments (crutches, oars and skis transformed by cymbals and bells). In addition to having been adopted as an annual ritual in Chicago, "Crepuscule" has been performed in Philadelphia, PA and Minneapolis, MN, and employed by the Banlieues Bleues Festival in Paris, France to unite the diverse artistic and ethnic cultures of Paris' inner city communities.
Ewart is the winner of the Bush Artists Fellowship (1997), Minnesota ComposersForum/McKnight Foundation fellowships, Jerome Foundation grants, Mayor Harold Washington's Outstanding Artist Award and a Naropa Institute residency among many other honors. He has performed at the Moers International Festival (Germany), at the University of Puerto Rico San Juan, throughout Brazil, in Tokyo, Perth, Havana, Paris, Stockholm, London, Düsseldorf and Berlin; in the U.S. he has performed at Mobius (Boston), The Contemporary Art Center (New Orleans), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Science Museum (St. Paul), 1750 Arch Street (Berkeley), Painted Bride (Philadelphia), Creative Arts Collective (Detroit), Lincoln Park Zoo and the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), Merkin Hall, the Public Theater, The Kitchen and Carnegie Hall (New York). He has led workshops and lectured at Louisiana Nature Center (New Orleans), University of Illinois Unit One (Champaign), the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC.), Northwestern University (Evanston), University of Chicago and the Banff Center for the Arts (Alberta, Canada)."-Douglas Ewart Website (https://douglasewart.com/bio)
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• Show Bio for Mike Reed
"Mike Reed (b. Bielefeld, Germany May 26, 1974) is a musician, composer, bandleader and arts presenter based in Chicago. Over the last two decades he has emerged as a dominant force within Chicago's diverse artistic community, both through the music he makes and the live events he produces. In addition to leading or co-leading several working bands, all rooted deeply in jazz and improvised music, he's founding director of the Pitchfork Music Festival, the current programming chair of the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the owner and director of the acclaimed performing arts venue Constellation. He is a devoted cultural advocate committed to providing platforms for artistic expression unhindered by commercial pressures. In 2016 he also became the owner of the Hungry Brain, a cozy neighborhood tavern that's been a fulcrum for live creative music and socially-driven public programs.
His long-running post-bop quartet People, Places & Things has collaborated with guest musicians like Ira Sullivan, Julian Priester, Art Hoyle, Craig Taborn, and Matthew Shipp over the years. An expanded iteration of that project called Flesh & Bone, augmented by additional horn players and vocalist/poet Marvin Tate Reed, has pushed the project in new directions. The endeavor was initiated by the leader's deeply personal reaction to a race riot he found himself in the midst of in the town of Prerov in the Czech Republic during a 2009 tour. Reed also leads an improvisation-heavy quintet called Loose Assembly as well as the expansive octet Living by Lanterns (with includes guitarist Mary Halvorson, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock). Over the last couple of years he's played in Artifacts, a collective trio with flutist Nicole Mitchell and cellist Tomeka Reid, devoted to interpreting music by members of the AACM-a body of work rarely interpreted by musicians other than the composers.
In addition to forging ongoing collaborative relationships with first-wave AACM figures like the legendary reedist Roscoe Mitchell and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, Reed remains a lynchpin in his native city, working as a key member of vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz's trio Sun Rooms as well as the octet led by bassist Jason Roebke. Over the years he was worked with Chicago musicians like guitarist Jeff Parker, flutist Nicole Mitchell, saxophonists Fred Anderson, and cornetist Rob Mazurek. He's a member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), where he served as vice-chairperson between 2009-2011. Downbeat Magazine has regularly recognized Reed as Jazz Artist, Rising Star in in its annual Critics Poll since 2009, and one of the 80 Best Things About Jazz in its 80th Anniversary issue. In 2010 The Chicago Tribune named Reed as one of its Chicagoans of the year and in 2014 Chicago Magazine cited him as the 94th most powerful and influential person in the city. In 2016 Reed was awarded a prestigious United States Artists fellowship from the Doris Duke Foundation, recognized for his "unique artistic voice that expands the creative environment of the United States."
Reed's organizational talents first surfaced when he and cornetist Josh Berman launched the Sunday Transmission series at the Hungry Brain in 2000. That weekly series as remained a crucial nexus of performance and socializing for jazz and improvised musicians in Chicago, and it opened the door for Reed's entrepreneurial side. In 2005 he parlayed his increased experience into large multi-day music festivals in partnership with the influential music website Pitchfork; the event is now one of the most important summer music festivals in the world. Soon he joined the committee that programs the annual Chicago Jazz Festival-the largest free jazz festival in the world. He also helped launch the city's Downtown Sound music series, a free weekly concert program presented in Millennium Park that has featured an eclectic mix of indie rock, world music, and contemporary soul, and he remains involved with its programming.
His interest in programming a widening range of performance reached its apex in the spring of 2013 when he opened Constellation, a multi-room venue that rapidly made its mark on the local arts scene. From the outset he partnered with the renowned Chicago dance organization Links Hall to program nightly events. As a building partner, Links Hall brings decades of experience fostering artistic growth in dance, performance art, film and other media, while Reed has quickly established Constellation as a hothouse for jazz, improvised, experimental, and contemporary classical music. Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune has called it, "one of the most important rooms in the city," and in its first year in business, the Chicago Reader named the space the Best New Music Venue."-Mike Reed Website (https://www.mikereed-music.com/about)
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1. Constellations and Conjunctional Spaces 15:49
2. Sun Beans of Shimmering Light 7:53
3. Super Moon Rising 10:25
4. Unknown Forces 9:48
5. Dark Tango 1:46
sample the album:
"Three significant forces spanning two generations of the forward-thinking Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians meet in a poised recital on Sun Beans of Shimmering Light. Although recorded in 2015 at drummer Mike Reed's Constellation arts space in Chicago, the concert's genesis lies some five years earlier and 700 miles to the east.
When Reed's band People, Places & Things played the 2010 Vision Festival in NYC on the same evening as Wadada Leo Smith, the trumpeter said that they must get together. As Reed told writer Howard Reich, he thought Smith was being polite and thought no more of it. But during a subsequent encounter with multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart, the elder man reiterated Smith's desire. All three finally united in 2012, an occasion so successful that further meetings occurred in the following years, the last of which furnished this live recording.
While none of the pieces is credited on the sleeve, Smith and Ewart both brought charts to earlier dates, and it's easy to imagine preconception at work in the ordered but spacious interplay which makes up the five selections on the 45-minute program. The presence of three form-seeking improvisers means that where notation ends and individual expression begins is deliciously unclear. Such ambiguity and unpredictability hallmarks some of the finest music, and it's stamped all over this session.
Smith's ethos that the silence around a note is as important as the note itself is evidently shared. His trumpet mingles in measured counterpoint with Ewart's bassoon in a chamber sensibility at the start of "Constellations And Conjunctional Spaces," not disturbed by Reed's small percussion grounding. Reed buoys up further elegant interaction as Ewart's sopranino saxophone ululations threads through Smith's declamatory brass as the track proceeds. The beautiful plaintive air of the title cut constitutes another of the high points in a consistently rewarding performance.
Smith's sound exudes gravitas and a blues feeling, even though the structure is never invoked. He filters the lyricism of Miles Davis through an abstract prism. Ewart matches him with lines which variously recall hymns and folk music, while also using an array of horns and small instruments to vary the colors and balance. Reed shows himself to be a wonderfully crisp and precise drummer, evidencing an almost orchestral conception in his placement of rhythmic elements, although none of the pieces displays a steady pulse.
Setting aside the question of whether the title is a typo (it appears often enough on the sleeve to imply intent), its suggestion of an organic entity growing out of something ineffable is an apt metaphor for the consummate artistry contained within. While the repeatability of this threesome remains unknown, this set provides an account to treasure."-John Sharpe, All About Jazz
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