The boldly original composer, trumpeter and Pulitzer Finalist Wadada Leo Smith presents 44 Years: Retrospective featuring twelve ensembles + video, Tuesday, April 21 – Sunday, April 26, 2015 at The Stone, Corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street, New York City. All shows $20. http://www.thestonenyc.com
Smith performs a wide range of music from all phases of his career. The series begins with Structure A, on Tuesday, April 21st and Wednesday, April 22nd. On Tuesday, April 21st at 8 p.m. Smith performs solo in Creative Music 1 and in Sonic River featuring Smith, alto saxophonist John Zorn and trombonist George Lewis. At 10 p.m. Smith performs Divine Love with vibraharpist Bobby Naughton and reedman Dwight Andrews. On Wednesday, April 22nd, Smith talks about his music philosophy and language at 7 p.m. The Nile featuring Smith and sound designer Hardedge takes place at 8 p.m. Tastalun follows at 10 p.m. featuring Smith with cornetist Graham Haynes and trumpeter Ted Daniel.
Structure B encompasses the music on Thursday and Friday. Thursday, April 23rd showcases Taif: Prayer In The Garden of The Hijaz, String Quartet No. 6 featuring The Secret Quartet with violinists Jennifer Choi and Neil Dufallo, cellist Yves Dharamraj and violist Lev Zhurbin + Smith on trumpet and Aruán Ortiz on piano. The Black Hole / Silence follows at 10 p.m. featuring Smith with electric bassist Bill Laswell, pianist Yuko Fujiyama, electric guitarist Henry Kaiser and sound designer Hardedge. Friday, April 24th begins with Mbira: Dark Lady of the Sonnets featuring Smith with Min Xiao Fen on pipa and Pheeroan akLaff on drums at 8 p.m. followed at 10 p.m. by Celebratory: Ornette - Coltrane – Shannon with Smith, electric guitarists Brandon Ross and Lamar Smith, electric bassist Bill Laswell and drummer Pheeroan akLaff.
Structure C encompasses the final two nights of performances. Saturday, April 25 features The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer with Smith and percussionist Mauro Refosco at 8 p.m. followed at 10 by Ten Freedom Summers with The Golden Quartet (Smith, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff) + video artist Jesse Gilbert. Sunday, April 26 features a 7 p.m. talk by Smith about his music philosophy and language. The Bell follows at 8 p.m. with Smith, pianist Aruán Ortiz, bassist William Parker and percussionist Adam Rudolph. The evening concludes at 10 p.m. with America’s Third Century Spiritual Awakening / The Year of The Elephant The Golden Quintet (15 years: Retrospective) featuring Smith with pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, drummer Pheeroan akLaff and percussionist Adam Rudolph + video artist Jesse Gilbert.
Composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, whose roots are in the Delta blues, is one of the most boldly original figures in American jazz and creative contemporary music and one of the great trumpet players of our time. As a composer, improviser, performer, music theorist/writer and educator, Smith has devoted a lifetime to navigating the emotional heart, spiritual soul, social significance and physical structure of jazz to create new music of infinite possibility and nuance.
Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather bluesman Alex Wallace. He also performed in his high school concert and marching bands, and received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).
Part of the first generation of musicians to come out of Chicago’s AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Music), Smith formed the Creative Construction Company together with saxophonist Anthony Braxton and violinist Leroy Jenkins. Smith is featured on Braxton’s groundbreaking 1969 album 3 Compositions of New Jazz and also collaborated with a dazzling cast of fellow visionaries including Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Davis and Steve McCall. Early in his career, Smith developed Ankhrasmation, a radically original musical language that remains the philosophical foundation of his oeuvre. Smith cemented his reputation as a profound musical thinker with the 1973 treatise “Notes (8 pieces) source a new world music: creative music.” Since the early 1970s, he has performed and recorded mainly with his own groups. He currently leads five principal ensembles: Mbira, a trio with pipa player Min Xiao-Fen and drummer Pheeroan akLaff; the Golden Quartet, his highly celebrated group that now includes Anthony Davis, John Lindberg and akLaff; and three larger ensembles: Organic, which utilizes instrumentation consisting primarily of electric string instruments including four guitarists; the Silver Orchestra; and TUMO, a new improvising orchestra featuring Smith with some of the leading performers from the Nordic region. He has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. When Tzadik released a boxed set of his self-released early work in 2004, The Kabell Years 1971-79, All About Jazz noted that “having all this material in one spot establishes Wadada Leo Smith as a major musical force and verifies his important and lasting influence on succeeding generations.”
A 2013 Pulitzer finalist, Smith was also DownBeat Magazine’s 2013 “Composer of the Year” and the Jazz Journalist Association’s 2013 Musician of the Year and Trumpeter of the Year. In 2014 DownBeat magazine named him “One of the 80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today,” citing his “magisterial instrumental voice, his inspirational leadership, and his command of classical, jazz and blues forms to remind us of what’s gone down and what’s still happening.” Most recently, he was commissioned by the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra to write a new piece titled "Solidarity for orchestra and quartet" which premiered to great acclaim on November 14, 2014 in Wroclaw Poland. His 2014 CD The Great Lakes Suites earned broad critical acclaim and won second place in NPR Music’s 2014 Jazz Critics Poll.
Smith has been awarded grants and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, Chamber Music America with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, the FONT (Festival of New Trumpet Music) Award of Recognition, Southwest Chamber Music funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the MAP Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.