Thursday, August 24, 2017

America's National Parks & Wadada Leo Smith in the Spotlight: August 2017

DownBeat Magazine's 65th Annual Critics Poll honors Wadada Leo Smith's America's National Parks, released on Cuneiform Records, with its 2017 Jazz Album of the Year Award. The DownBeat Critics Poll Awards, one of the jazz world's most prestigious honors, also recognized Smith with its 2017 Musician of the Year Award and its Trumpeter of the Year Award. Earlier this summer, Smith was named 2017 Jazz Artist of the Year by the Jazz Journalist Association. Without question, 2017 is The Year of Wadada Leo Smith.

"Mr. Smith, a trumpeter of fiery purpose and intrepid imagination" -New York Times

In October 2016, while America celebrated the Centennial of America's National Park Service and prepared for its 45th presidential election, the visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith released an extraordinary double-disc album on Cuneiform Records. Named after and in tribute to America’s National Parks, it was a six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes. Smith recorded the album with his longstanding Golden Quintet: Anthony Davis (piano), Ashley Walters (cello), John Lindberg (bass). Pheeroan akLaff (drums) and Jesse Gilbert (video artist).

The two-disc set featured six Smith compositions that celebrated America's most iconic national splendors and proposed new monuments to America's shared experience. Among the tracks celebrating national parks was one titled "Yellowstone: The First National Park and the Spirit of America – The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872", which honored the first National Park in America and in the world, created before the founding of the National Park Service.

Talking about his America's National Parks, Smith noted:  "My focus is on the... idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens: those who have passed on before, those who are here in the present, and those who will come in the future. The...collective notion about common property, inheritance, longevity, transformation, and sustaining beauty down the line...”

Cuneiform Records -  the same label that released Smith's monumental, 4-disc tribute to the American Civil Rights movement, Ten Freedom Summers, a finalist for 2013's Pulitzer Prize - released America's National Parks worldwide on October 14th, 2016. Cuneiform announced America's National Parks release in a special "The Word is Out" eblast.

From the moment of its release, America's National Parks steadily accrued acclaim from jazz and creative music critics and fans worldwide. DownBeat Magazine featured Smith on its November cover, calling him a "National Treasure."

"Smith is a true master, and America's National Parks is one of his most visionary works" -The Quietus

As word about America's National Parks spread worldwide, the album received countless positive reviews in magazines, newspapers and webzines, and new reviews continue to emerge. Released in Fall 2016, it also appeared on dozens of high-profile Best of Year lists for 2016, including:

#1 on El Intruso's Ninth Annual International Critics Poll
#1 Jazz CD by The Wire, 
and many others

Now, in Summer 2017, America's National Parks has received one of the jazz world's most coveted prizes: named #1 Jazz Album of the Year by DownBeat Magazine's 65th Annual Critics Poll.

If you'd like to share music from America's National Parks, please feel free to use the following track:

"New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718 [Excerpt]":

If YOU have not yet heard America's National Parks, one of the most acclaimed jazz & creative music recordings of the 2016-2017 year, NOW is the time!

America the Beautiful: 
Protecting America's Natural Heritage

"The national parks represent an idea born in this country, as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most magnificent and sacred places in our nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone.” - Ken Burns & Dayton Duncan

Beloved by Americans and setting an example embraced by the world, America's National Parks have been called "America's Best Idea". The idea of creating National Parks - setting aside land to be owned by the American people in perpetuity, for the public's pleasure and national pride - was an American innovation. The first dates to 1872, when President Grant designated Yellowstone, the world's first national park. By 1916, the government needed an agency to oversee these priceless treasures. On August 25th, 1916, President Wilson signed the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner … as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Last summer - on August 26th 2016 - America celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. Centennial celebrations were held throughout 2016 across America. Cuneiform sent out an eblast in August 2016 that congratulated the National Park Service on its landmark anniversary and announced Wadada Leo Smith’s upcoming release of America's National Parks.

Now it's 2017.

A lot has changed in the USA within a year, since Cuneiform sent out that August 2016 announcement.

As 2016 ended, President Obama's second term came to a close. In January 2017, President Trump began his term in office.

"Smith calmly drops another monumental, mythopoetic reimagining of the great America outdoors... It's rare indeed that instrumental music provides such an urgent commentary on current affairs. It's never been more necessary." -The Wire

Now, in 2017, the legacy of Wadada Leo Smith's America's National Parks continues to grow. But the future of America's own National Parks, National Monuments and other public lands is in peril, an alarming fact for all Americans regardless of political affiliation. On Jan. 19, a Guardian article revealed that while Americans had been reacting to assaults on Obamacare, women's rights and civil rights, Congress quietly eased the way for the new administration to give away our federal public lands. Since then, a ceaseless blizzard of legislative bills and decrees have been introduced to sell off, privatize, or privately exploit public lands; cut funding and remove law enforcement from them; and dismantle environmental protections (water, oil drilling, mining etc) on them. Most recently, America's National Monuments and the 1906 Antiquities Act used to create them (and National Parks) have been under attack, their status under "review". New assaults on America's public lands and natural environment arise daily. All are connected; while draining our nation of natural resources, oil/gas/coal corporations and private developers/businessmen would benefit, while impoverishing the American public of its national, natural birthright.

During these politically, socially and racially divided times, America needs its national and natural spaces more than ever before: symbolically, spiritually, socially and physically. Mother Nature is a healing force for all humanity, regardless of color, creed or political affiliation. America's National Parks, National Monuments, and federal lands are the priceless Common Grounds on which our divided nation can come together as One People  - Americans - and eventually heal. We must keep America Great by preserving our great lands.

For more information on how to help protect and preserve America's National Parks, National Monuments and public lands for future generations, here are a few suggestions:

National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defence Council
Wilderness Society
The Trust for Public Land

2017's Artist of the Year

“Wadada's been here long enough to accumulate these different feelings and elements and experiences about the human condition, and he's pouring it back on the world. He plays rivers and lakes and mountains and fields. You don't find that so much in music. That's why people are responding.” 
- Bill Laswell

Boldly original trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith has topped three categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll: Jazz Artist, Trumpet and Jazz Album (for America’s National Parks on Cuneiform.)  A group of 155 international critics from organizations including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, NPR, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice participated in this year’s poll.  Smith is also featured on the cover of the August 2017 issue of DownBeat.

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.

"One of America's artistic geniuses, in league with Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis"-All About Jazz

In October 2015, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith's Ankhrasmation scores. In addition to igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them, their use of non-standard visual directions makes them works of art in themselves. In 2016, the scores were also featured in the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. exhibition, and at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco, among other places.

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.

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environments of his times with passion and fierce intelligence.

For more about Wadada Leo Smith and his impressive discography, released on some of the world's most respected and adventurous labels, please follow this link: 

To hear Wadada Leo Smith's seven releases (several featuring multiple discs) on Cuneiform Records, please follow these links:

Wadada Leo Smith: Golden Quartet & Organic (on Cuneiform)

Wadada Leo Smith: Yo Miles (on Cuneiform)

Four years before the release of America's National Parks, Wadada Leo Smith had released another epic work on Cuneiform Records. Ten Freedom Summers was a landmark civil rights opus that garnered critical acclaim worldwide and was honored as one of the three finalists for the 2013 Pultizer Prize; "A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach” (Francis Davis, Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll). A monumental work released as a four-disc set, Ten Freedom Summers came out on Cuneiform in 2012.

If you've not yet heard Ten Freedom Summers, one of the most acclaimed jazz & creative music recordings of the 2012-2013 year, NOW is the time!

About Cuneiform Records

"Cuneiform has kept atop its game for so many years..because it recognizes that the frontiers are there. can trust their judgement. ...almost everything in sight is an album you ought to hear. So go hear them…." - Dave Thompson, "Cuneiform Records — Thirty-plus Years of Essential Listening," Goldmine

Cuneiform Records is one of the world's most longstanding independent record labels. Internationally respected for high-quality releases of avant garde music by some of the best musicians in the world, it releases music by established icons as well as young rising stars. Cuneiform specializes in cutting-edge music in a wide variety of genres, ranging from jazz to rock to electronic to post-classical to Rock in Opposition and beyond - and is especially known for releasing creative music that defies, re-defines, hybridizes and/or transcends existing musical genres, blazing future paths.

"...the ever wonderful Cuneiform Records..." - BBC

Based in the Washington DC beltway (downtown Silver Spring, MD) since 1984, it has released more than 450 albums to date. Its releases have been critically acclaimed worldwide, and have appeared over the years in Best-Albums-of-the-Year lists in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Popmatters, The Quietus, DownBeat, Jazz Wise, The Wire, and more. Cuneiform's recordings have been featured worldwide on radio ranging from college and community stations to national radio (NPR, BBC, RAI, NRK). In addition, Cuneiform Records has been honored over the years by inclusion in a number of year-end Best Record Label lists (under both jazz and rock/avant-progressive genres); most recently, it was cited in El Intruso's 2016 International Critics Poll as one of the world's top 5 creative music/jazz record labels.

Sábado, Porta-Jazz ao Relento - The Nada

Sábado, 26 de agosto 22:00
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
- entrada livre -

The Nada
João Guimarães - saxofone alto
Eurico Costa - guitarra
António Augusto Aguiar - baixo eléctrico
José Marrucho - bateria

“The Nada" surge com o intuito de constituir uma plataforma para o experimentalismo sonoro, para a improvisação livre, para a exploração de formas e estéticas menos convencionais. 

O quarteto será, assim, o propulsor do que se espera uma experiência singular.

Este projecto tem a sua génese na assunção de claras empatias musicais entre os seus membros, tendo sido a vinda de Simon Jermyn a Portugal um factor decisivo para a sua consolidação. A procura de novas formas de expressão subsidiárias do jazz, de novos cenários de onde a improvisação também pudesse emanar, levaram a que estes quatro músicos se congregassem no ímpeto de partilhar essas experiências.

Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
- entrada livre -

2 setembro, 18:30
Eduardo Cardinho 5teto
Eduardo Cardinho - vibrafone
José Soares - saxofone
Mané Fernandes - guitarra
Filipe Louro - contrabaixo
Alex Lázaro - bateria

3 setembro, 19:00
Renato Dias Trio
Renato Dias - guitarra
Filipe Teixeira - contrabaixo
Filipe Monteiro - bateria

9 setembro, 18:30
Susana Santos Silva 'Impermanence'
Susana Santos Silva - trompete
João Pedro Brandão - saxofone alto / flauta
Hugo Raro - piano
Torbjörn Zetterberg - contrabaixo
José Marrucho - bateria

10 setembro, 18:30
Rui Filipe Freitas Sexteto
Rui Filipe Freitas - vibrafone
João Mortágua - saxofone alto
José Pedro Coelho - saxofone tenor
Mané Fernandes - guitarra
Filipe Teixeira - contrabaixo
João Martins - bateria

17 setembro, 18:30
Pedro Neves Trio
Pedro Neves - piano
Miguel Ângelo - contrabaixo
Leandro Leonet - bateria

Dave Stryker CD Release Tour for Strykin' Ahead

Dave Stryker
CD Release Tour For
Strykin' Ahead

(Strikezone 8815)
Street Date: September 1, 2017
Dave Stryker Strykin' Ahead

Upcoming Live Appearances

w/ Eric Alexander, Steve Nelson, Jared Gold, Byron Landham 8pm

w/ Mike Lee, Jared Gold, Byron Landham 8:30pm

w/ Monte Croft, Jared Gold, Mark Whitfeld Jr 7/9pm

w/ Joe Doubleday, Jared Gold, McClenty Hunter 7pm

w/ Monte Croft, Jared Gold, Mark Whitfeld Jr. 8/10pm

w/ Jared Gold, McClenty Hunter 8pm

w/ Monte Croft, Jared Gold, McClenty Hunter 8:30pm

w/ Steve Nelson, Jared Gold, McClenty Hunter 8pm

w/ Walter Smith III, Kendall Carter, Steve Houghton 5:30pm

w/ Rob Dixon, Kendall Carter, Steve Houghton 7pm

w/ Monte Croft, Jared Gold, Mark Whitfeld Jr 7:30pm

w/ Jared Gold, Byron Landham 7:30

w/ Jared Gold, McClenty Hunter 7pm 

Dave Stryker is a 2017 DownBeat Critics Poll Finalist

Advance Praise For Strykin' Ahead

A mainstream record of undeniable beauty
Vittorio Lo Conte /  Music Zoom Italy

If you have chops like Dave’s; his musical sensibilities; his uncanny ability to put together interesting instrumentations; his skill at selecting just the right band mates to make Jazz with; wouldn’t you want to work all the time, too?

It becomes like anything you’re good at; you want to do it as often as possible but occasionally vary the context to keep it from getting stale.
- Steven Cerra Jazz Profiles

A real burner of a set, it feels like an artifact from the past, unreleased from Bluenote/Verve, but it’s modern, contemporary touches are well evident showing how a cat that’s been hitting all the right notes for all these years can’t make a false step now.
- CHRIS SPECTOR, Midwest Record Editor and Publisher 

I give Dave and his talented crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this one… and keep in mind that you heard it here first… this one is BOUND for the awards.
- Dick Metcalf Improvijazzation Nation

About The New CD

Artist: Dave Stryker
Title: Strykin’ Ahead
Label: Strikezone Records 8815
Artists Website:
Release Date: September 1, 2017
UPC Code: 88829560583 

Track listing, track times:
1 SHADOWBOXING Dave Stryker (D. Strike Music BMI) 5:59
2 FOOTPRINTS Wayne Shorter (Miyako Music BMI) 6:39
3 NEW YOU Dave Stryker (D.Strike Music BMI) 5:50
4 PASSION FLOWER Billy Strayhorn (Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc ASCAP)
5:33 5 STRYKIN’ AHEAD Dave Stryker (D. Strike Music BMI) 6:12
6 BLUES DOWN DEEP Dave Stryker (D. Strike Music BMI) 7:15
7 JOY SPRING Clifford Brown (Second Floor Music BMI) 8:12
8 WHO CAN I TURN TO Newley/ Bricusse (Musical Comedy Prod Inc BMI) 7:32
9 DONNA LEE Charlie Parker (Atlantic Music Corp BMI) 6:27

STEVE NELSON - vibraphone
JARED GOLD - organ

The notion of moving forward by triangulating a space between creative and pragmatic imperatives is a consistent thread throughout Dave Stryker’s four decades in the jazz business, not least on Strykin’ Ahead, his 28th CD as a leader. Stryker augments his working trio of Jared Gold on organ and McClenty Hunter on drums with vibraphone player Steve Nelson, all on-board for a second go-round after their stellar contri- butions to last year’s Eight-Track II. Like the leader, Nelson is a preternaturally flexible and in-the-moment improviser with deep roots in the tradition who knows how to push the envelope without damaging the contents. Stryker internalized those imperatives on a 1984-1986 run with Brother Jack McDuff, and he received further invaluable training in the art of musical communication during a decade on the road with Stanley Turrentine, to whom he paid homage on the 2015 release Don’t Mess With Mister T.

In contrast to his Eight Track II conception of putting his spin on pop hits of his formative years, Stryker returns to his long-standing practice of presenting originals and reharmonized standards from the jazz and show music songbooks. "Shadowboxing" is a burning 14-bar minor blues; his well-considered chordal variations on Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" proceed to a simmering 5/4 figure. Next is "New You" (a stimulating Stryker contrafact of the oft-played "There Will Never Be Another You"). He personalizes Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower," set to Hunter's insinuating bossa-funk groove. The title track “Strykin’ Ahead” has a Cadillac-racing-down-the-freeway-feel; he imbues the lovely melody of "Who Can I Turn To" with the full measure of his plush, inviting tone.

That Stryker knows his Albert King is evident on the slow-drag “Blues Down Deep,” which evokes wee-hours third sets in the inner city grills and lounges of Stryker’s apprentice years. He knows his bebop, too. On Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” the solo flights over Stryker’s “modernized” progressions transpire over Hunter’s drum-bass beats and crisp, medium-up four-on-the cymbal; on the chopbusting “Donna Lee,” all members springboard off a churchy vamp and Hunter’s funk-infused swing.

“I’ve always wanted to write vehicles that are fun and interesting to blow over,” Stryker says. “Trying to come up with a beautiful melody that lasts is very fulfilling. Writing is a big part of my voice in this music.” Stryker is too modest to say that his voice is also a big part of jazz, to which he’s devoted a career marked by consistent application of the values that he espouses. But that’s all right—I’ll say it for him. (Edited liner notes from Ted Panken)

Produced by Dave Stryker
Executive Producer - Rick Simpson
Engineered and Mixed by Chris Sulit at Trading 8’s Studio, Paramus NJ on June 28, 2016 

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