Last year, trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith turned 80, an opportunity for the Finish label TUM - with whom he's been releasing most of his albums in the last decade - to honour him with an incredible amount of new music, or 18 discs in total presented in several boxes.
Have I been listening to all of them lately? Yes, all of them several times, and then even more. There are times when you could think that this is overkill, that all this is too much, but Smith is creative and artistic enough to bring new sounds, and he is smart enough to surround himself with top level musicians who are not afraid to challenge him while at the same time understanding very well what his music is aiming for.
Writing about this music is a challenge. There is no way that it can give sufficient credit to the quantity and quality of it.
Wadada Leo Smith – The Emerald Duets (TUM, 2022) *****
“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 Wadada Leo 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.” The album is dedicated to the major artists from the Chicago area, from Louis Armstrong to AACM and politically from presidents Lincoln to Obama.