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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wadada Leo Smith & Günter Sommers - Wisdom In Time (Intakt, 2007) *****

On "Wisdom In Time", Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Günter "Baby" Sommer (drums, percussion) revisit their collaboration of ten years ago, now without the late Peter Kowald' bass. In the continuation of his great album "Compassion" of last year, the duo setting seems to suit Smith perfectly, and he - or rather "they - delve into the sheer emotional and spiritual power of pure sounds - melody and rhythm being often only latently present in favor of patternless clarity and intense interaction. This careful and very attentive, almost considerate and respectful handling of sound by Wadada Leo Smith is of course not new to him, but I have the impression that he brings it to even higher levels of perfection than before, more abstract yet also more accessible, a rare combination which is hard to explain. Sommer is excellent throughout, not only adding accents, but actively driving Smith at times, reacting and propulsing at the same time, bringing a more tribal coloring to the music, especially on "Woodland Trails To The Giants" and "Old Times Roll", as opposed to Adam Rudolph's softer meditation-like approach on the previous album. Smith's use of electronics increases the tonal variation, but without being excessive, just creating shades, offering more depth to his sustained crystal-clear tone. Their ode to Peter Kowald in "Bass-Star Hemisphere" offers absolute sheer musical beauty, in a combination of sadness and joy, interspersed with little dance-like intervals, or dark menacing drum-rolls and somber bells, leaving lots of space without any urge to fill the space between notes. This is music stripped bare of any needless ornamentation or melodic anchor points, and thereby creating a feeling of wide expansive vastness and openness, involving the listener in their spiritual journey. Again, highly recommended.