Wadada Leo Smith “Ten Freedom Summers” | Cuneiform Records
“In composing Ten Freedom Summers, I tried to achieve a creative expression through music of the psychological impact of the Civil Rights movement on American society”. – Wadada Leo Smith
Very rarely in music history does an artist reach an apex and large magnitude of output in the latter stages of their career. This holds true to one of the greatest living trumpet players, Wadada Leo Smith. With a large body of musical knowledge that spreads across the globe and directly into the heart of American music, Wadada Leo Smith has gained access to musical worlds that are paving new directions into the jazz and classical idioms. As director of the African American Improvisational Music program at Cal Arts and one of the earliest members to join the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) collective in the 60′s, Wadada’s legacy is unparalleled.
As a composer whose system of notation is unique to his bands (Ankhrasmation), there are few who posses the vitality and vision he does and his popularity keeps growing as he continues to give the world something that is as important culturally and historically as it is melodically adventurous, beautiful and refreshing. With scores of projects under his name that canvas a man’s yearning to express infinity, the first LP’s he was releasing in the early 70′s set a trail of music that is now being rediscovered and appreciated by many new generations. When John Zorn picked up his back catalog from that period and released a compilation set covering that material, it was my first real introduction to the steam and power of what Wadada Leo Smith had set inside his path from the beginning.
Almost 50 years later and Wadada Leo Smith is in his 70′s and what everyone in the jazz and classical worlds can call his prime. This years release of Ten Freedom Summers by Wadada Leo Smith is confirmation of this presence in visionary scope that he has evolved to. 4 hours, 33 minutes and 59 seconds of a vast emotional communication and representation of civil rights activism in the stretch of its most impactful years (50′s-60′s), Wadada has given his most expansive body of work to the Cuneiform Records imprint for this historic release. Spread over four discs, this music was constructed over decades of times, consuming the entire 19 pieces with subject matters of social equality that absorb a lot of the emotions surrounding this state of the United States history. Honoring the lives of many who were a part of the Civil Rights movement along with different events that shaped this time, every piece glows with intensity that speaks the voices of some of the brightest minds of our time. The musicianship is top level and it goes beyond explanation to how much musical territory they cover.
Ten Freedom Summers is a release you truly have to hear for yourself to believe. If you love the body of jazz and classical music, there is without a doubt that you need this in your collection. Easily the most important socially slanted album of the last 30 years that represents an aspect of history that still sits with 100′s of thousands who live in the United States. This is what American music is all about.