Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith
tops 3 categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll and is featured in August 2017 cover story
Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter and Jazz Album of the Year
for October 2016 Cuneiform release America’s National Parks
155 Critics from across the globe vote in poll
(Photo: Michael Jackson)
A six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes, America’s National Parks earned wide praise as one of the best albums of 2016 from media like The New York Times, the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, Slate, The Wire and many others.
Throughout his career, Smith, 75, has been recognized for his groundbreaking work. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as "Creative Music." A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum's 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement "honoring brilliance and resilience."
In addition, Smith was honored by the Jazz Journalists Association as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as the 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA also named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year. In 2013 he was also selected as DownBeat Magazine's Composer of the Year and he graced the cover of that magazine in November 2016.
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 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).
For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.
Upcoming recordings include Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (TUM) featuring Smith with guitarists Michael Gregory Jackson, Henry Kaiser, Brandon Ross and Lamar Smith, plus Bill Laswell on electric bass, Pheeroan akLaff on drums and Adam Rudolph on percussion. Also on TUM will be Alone: Reflections and Meditations on Monk, a solo recording.