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Smith, Wadada Leo Great Lakes Quartet

The Chicago Symphonies [4 CD BOX SET]

Smith, Wadada Leo Great Lakes Quartet: The Chicago Symphonies [4 CD BOX SET] (Tum)

Inspired by Don Cherry's 1966 Symphony For Improvisers and intended to illustrate the profound cultural contributions Chicagoans & Midwesterners have made, trumpeter Leo Smith's presents four expansive symphonies, three performed with Henry Threadgill (sax & flute), John Lindberg (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums), the fourth with Jonathon Haffner (sax) plus Smith, Lindberg and DeJohnette.

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product information:

UPC: 6430015288041

Label: Tum
Catalog ID: TUM 1004
Squidco Product Code: 31013

Format: 4 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: Finland
Packaging: Box Set / 4 CDS + Booklet
Discs 1 - 3 recorded at Avatar Studios, in New York City, New York, on March 29th and 30th, 2015, recorded by Robert Musso and Thom Beemer.

Disc 4 recorded at NPR Studios in Catskills, New York, on June 1st, 2018, by Scott Petito.


Wadada Leo Smith-trumpet, flugelhorn

Henry Threadgill-alto saxophone, flute, bass flute

John Lindberg-double bass

Jack DeJohnette-drums

Jonathon Haffner-alto saxophone, soprano saxophones

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Artist Biographies:

"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 (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Henry Threadgill (born February 15, 1944) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer, saxophonist and flautist, who came to prominence in the 1970s leading ensembles with unusual instrumentation and often incorporating a range of non-jazz genres.

Threadgill studied at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, majoring in piano, flute, and composition. He studied piano with Gail Quillman and composition with Stella Roberts. He has been a bandleader and composer for over forty years. He was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his composition In for a Penny, In for a Pound, which premiered at Roulette Intermedium on December 4, 2014

Threadgill has performed and recorded with several ensembles: Air, Aggregation Orb, Make a Move, the seven-piece Henry Threadgill Sextett, the twenty-piece Society Situation Dance Band, Very Very Circus, X-75, and Zooid."

-Wikipedia (

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"John Lindberg commenced his full-time professional career at age sixteen, allowing for total immersion into his work as a performer/composer, subsequently being mentored by the late great bassist David Izenzon.

The first public performances of his ensemble compositions began in 1975, and in 1980 he recorded his first album focused on his original music, a collection of works for solo double bass, Comin' & Goin'.

Over the last forty-one years he has traveled the globe performing thousands of concerts of creative music, in thirty-six countries on five continents. He has released myriad albums - over one hundred - that spotlight his original compositions for a variety of jazz ensembles, and feature his singularly identifiable bass playing.

His extended works for chamber ensembles combined with improvising artists have been widely commissioned, including works for The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, New York Chamber Ensemble, and Neues Kolner Streichquartett. His catalogue contains over one hundred and fifty published works.

He is renowned as an ensemble leader, a collaborator in special duet settings, a solo double bass performer, and as co-founder of the String Trio of New York with Billy Bang and James Emery. He has worked with a plethora of luminary creative artists, including: Albert Mangelsdorff, Ed Thigpen, Eric Watson, Louis Sclavis, Human Arts Ensemble, Frank Lowe, Wadada Leo Smith, Susie Ibarra, Karl Berger, Anthony Braxton, Andrew Cyrille, Dave Douglas, John Carter, Henry Threadgill, Jack DeJohnette, Regina Carter, Jimmy Lyons, Sunny Murray, Roswell Rudd, Mary Redhouse, Pablo Calogero, Joe LaBarbera, Wendell Harrison, and Kevin Norton.

His work as a producer of numerous recordings, and of powerful cross-genre projects - such as JazzHopRevolution and BLOB - is well established, as is his ongoing work as an educator with a distinctly unique message.

Awards and fellowships in support of his work include those from New Music USA, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Chamber Music America, ASCAP, Arts International, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Cary Charitable Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Meet The Composer, and a Diploma de Honor from Gobernacion Cordillera, Chile.

Of late, John's disparate extra-musical activities - which include a stint as a community rescue squad ambulance driver, serving as general contractor for a cabin built with carpenter friends in South Dakota, and being engaged as an observational naturalist - have significantly informed his work as a composer and musician.

Released in September, 2016, on Clean Feed Records, are two new albums:John Lindberg BC3, Born in an Urban Ruin and John Lindberg Raptor Trio, Western Edges. Other recent recordings that feature his compositions include the duet with Wadada Leo Smith, Celestial Weather, the duet with cellist Anil Eraslan, Juggling Kukla (released as a limited edition of 300 vinyl LPs), and John Lindberg's TriPolar, [a]live at Roulette, NYC."

-John Lindberg Website (

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"Jack DeJohnette (born August 9, 1942) is an American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer.

An important figure of the fusion era of jazz, DeJohnette is one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th century, given his extensive work as leader and sideman for musicians including Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Alice Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and John Scofield. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2007."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Jonathon Haffner was raised in Southern California where he began playing saxophone at an early age. While in California Jonathon began studying saxophone with Phil Sobel.

Since moving to New York City Jonathon has performed/recorded with Butch Morris, Kenny Wollesen, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Steven Bernstein, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Uri Caine, Jim Black, Eddie Henderson, Chris Potter, Sex Mob, Cindi Lauper, Jesse Harris, Brazilian Girls, Brian Blade, Graham Haynes, Jonas Mekas, The Nublu Orchestra, Ilhan Ersahin, Elliott Sharp, Art Baron, David Binney, Rickie Lee Jones and Red Baraat

Jonathon also co-lead the group 'Himalayas' with drummer Kenny Wollesen, and performed in the ensemble 'Now We Are Here' which is led by filmmaker Jonas Mekas."

-Jonathon Haffner Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


1. Movement 1. (Light Fields And Circles: Amina Claudine Myers; Voices) 9:34

2. Movement 2. (Joyful, Sound And The Numbers; People: The Art Ensemble Of Chicago) 9:27

3. Movement 3. (Pastoral: Joseph Jarman; As If It Were The Seasons Of Seasons; Sherry Scott, Voice; Thurman Barker, Charles Clark And Christopher Gaddy)

4. Movement 4. (Creative Music; West End Blues And The Sonic Weather Bird: Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Lil Hardin And Baby Dodds) 7:17

5. Movement 5. (Star-Fields: The Secretary, John S. Jackson) 2:44


1. Movement 1. (The RareAir Songs In Sonic Forms And Metrical Folding: Henry Threadgill, Steve McCall And Fred Hopkins) 12:13

2. Movement 2. (Chicago: Culture, Creativity And The Artistic Passion; A Profile Of The Next Generations) 6:51

3. Movement 3. (Muhal Richard Abrams: Levels And Degrees Of The Light Spectrums; A New Culture: The Association For The Advancement Of Creative Musicians) 10:26

4. Movement 4. (Jack DeJohnette: A Special Edition, New Directions And The Sonic Rhythm Units) 7:08


1. Movement 1. (For Alto; In The Orchestra: N-M488; Anthony Braxton: Operas)


2. Movement 2. (Leroy Jenkins Mixed Quintet Sonics: Dance Opera)


3. Movement 3. (Heliocentric SunRa's Energy And Particles Of Light)


4. Movement 4. (Jupiter Skies: Kelan Phil Cohran And The Chicago Kulture)


5. Movement 5. Scented Yellow And Red Chrysanthemums; Wadada Leo Smith: The Bell In Silence And Ten Freedom Summers) 6:45


1. Movement 1. (Araham Lincoln, The 16th President Of The United States Of America) 6:02

2. Movement 2. (Abraham Lincoln At Gettysburg: Two Seven Two, 1863) 11:18

3. Movement 3. (The Visionaries, Abraham Lincoln And Barack Hussein Obama) 10:44

4. Movement 4. (Barack Hussein Obama At Selma: The Bridge Of Transformation) 15:06
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The Chicago Symphonies is a magnificent four-disc collection of extended compositions by Wadada Leo Smith´s Great Lakes Quartet in a celebration of Chicago and the Midwestern culture. The first three symphonies, "Gold," "Diamond" and "Pearl" are performed by Smith with three masters of creative music, saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadgill, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The fourth, "Sapphire Symphony - The Presidents and Their Vision for America," features saxophonist Jonathon Haffner with Smith, Lindberg and DeJohnette."-Tum

"The idea of a symphony composed for a sextet was first presented by composer/ performer Don Cherry in his classic recording Symphony For Improvisers in 1966," says Smith. "I have broadened this idea to include the social, political and psychological dynamic into the creative space. My Chicago Symphonies are intended to illustrate and preserve the powerfully unique cultural contribution that the Midwesterners made in helping to shape the American society."

Don Cherry's classic recording Symphony For Improvisers on Blue Note Records featured Cherry on the cornet with saxophonists Gato Barbieri and Pharoah Sanders, vibraphonist Karl Berger, bassists Henry Grimes and Jean-François Jenny-Clark, and drummer Ed Blackwell. In The Chicago Symphonies, Wadada Leo Smith has expanded his idea of using symphonic form to showcase some of the Midwest's creative composers/performers, poets, thinkers and political visionaries inside that symphonic form. In particular, The Chicago Symphonies celebrate the historical contributions of creative music in Chicago culture starting with Louis Armstrong and his contemporaries through Sun Ra and others onto the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as well as, in the case of "Sapphire Symphony," two great presidents hailing from Chicago, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Hussein Obama.

The Chicago Symphonies follows the release by the Great Lakes Quartet of The Great Lakes Suites (TUM CD 041-2, a double-CD with Smith, Threadgill, Lindberg and DeJohnette) that featured six extended compositions dedicated by Smith to Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, Laker Huron, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. In 2014, The Great Lakes Suites was broadly hailed as one of the top albums of the year."-grzech, Gpoint-Audio

Get additional information at Gpoint-Audio
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
Smith, Leo
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