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Monday, January 16, 2012

Wadada Leo Smith's Mbira - Dark Lady Of The Sonnets (TUM, 2011) ****½

 By Stef

Put on a record by Wadada Leo Smith, and each time you will lifted up into a different dimension, out of your daily routine, not into the mindlessness of relaxation entertainment, but into a realm rich in soul and spirituality, whether it's his funky electric Miles tribute albums, the sound universe of complex mastership with his Golden Quartet music, or his meditative and bluesy duo albums.

Smith's incredible strength is to suck the listener into his music ... deeply ... He can create a sound that makes the listener think "yes, I feel this too, this is me, yet I never managed to express it", whether joy, or aesthetic beauty, or peaceful calm or restless tribal energy.

On this album his powerful and uplifting trumpet songs are accompanied by Pheeroan akLaff on drums and Min Xiao-Fen on the Chinese pippa.The voice of the latter instrument is weak compared to the percussion and the trumpet, but yet the excellent sound quality compensates for that, together with the space Smith gives his trio and the solid unity of musical vision among the three artists. On the title track, a tribute to Billie Holiday, the vulnerable fragility is almost palpable, and you can only admire the akLaff's restraint in working his drums, barely audible, yet adding the necessary drama to the singing of voice and trumpet.

There is not much to say about the music, you should listen to it.

As I wrote earlier somewhere about his music : cosmic, rooted in the earth and so deeply human. A rare combination.

Again, I'm quite ecstatic about this album. Before you ask the question : why not a five-star rating as usual? Despite the quality, it is a further expansion of his former duo albums with a new line-up, and not really bringing a new musical vision. But still ...

Highly recommended.

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© stef