Saturday, December 18, 2021

Wadada Leo Smith's Special 80th Birthday Concert Video! on Saturday, December 18

Photo by Dominik Huber

The iconic composer/trumpeter/creative visionary Wadada Leo Smith turns 80 on Saturday, December 18 and he celebrates with a special Eightieth Birthday Celebration video performance as a "thanks to my fans and all who appreciate my music.” 

Also available at Vimeo 

Featured are Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, Pheeroan akLaff on drums, Erika Dohi on piano, and Lamar Smith on guitar. Pianist/composer Sylvie Courvoisier contributes a separate video.
Photo by Jimmy Katz

Wadada Leo Smith Eightieth Birthday Celebration Program 

– “Butterfly Silver," a film by Robert Fenz. Ep 1, soundtrack from Wadada’s Creative Music-1, 1971.

– "Sustained Melody” – Wadada Leo Smith, Pheeroan akLaff on drums, Erika Dohi on piano. 

– "For Wadada" – Composed and performed by Sylvie Courvoisier

– "Spiritual Horizon" – Wadada Leo Smith, Pheeroan akLaff, Erika Dohi, and Lamar Smith.

– "Yellow Stone" – Wadada Leo Smith, Pheeroan akLaff, Erika Dohi 

All compositions copyrighted by Wadada Leo Smith, except “For Wadada,” composed and performed by Sylvie Courvoisier.  "Muhammed Ali, Spiritual Horizon {song no 2} (*pre-recorded soundtrack with Bill Laswell and Melvin Gibbs plus Mauro Refosco)

Taped at Firehouse 12 in New Haven on December 4, 2021. Sylvie Courvoisier’s performance was taped separately. Mixed by Greg DiCrosta, Firehouse 12 Studio; Filmed and Edited by Nicki Chavoya.
Photo by Dominik Huber

About Wadada Leo Smith 
Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as "Creative Music."
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.
Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work.  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 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion.
Smith regularly earns multiple spots on the DownBeat International Critics Poll and has won poll in the categories of Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter and Jazz Album of the Year. The Jazz Journalists Association has also honored Smith as their Musician of the Year, Trumpeter of the Year, Composer of the Year, and Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. He has also earned top billing as Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year in the JazzTimes Critics Poll as well as top spots on the NPR Jazz Critics Poll.
In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith's Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.
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).
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 environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”  His most recent recordings include 2021’s Sacred Ceremonies, a 3 CD set featuring Smith, Bill Laswell & Milford Graves; Trumpet, a 3 CD solo trumpet set; The Chicago Symphonies a 4-album set celebrating the Midwest with his Great Lakes Quartet; and A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday. In March 2022 TUM will release two major box sets of Smith’s work. The include Wadada Leo Smith: String Quartets No. 1 - 12, a 7-CD box set featuring RedKoral Quartet plus featured soloists including Smith, Anthony Davis, Alison Bjorkedal, Thomas Buckner and more; and Wadada Leo Smith: Emerald Duets a set with 4 CDs, one each with Pheeroan akLaff, Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille and Jack DeJohnette, adding to Smith’s long history of duo recordings with some of the greatest drummers in the history of creative music. Writing about Smith’s 2017 album Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk in the New York Review of Books, Adam Shatz notes: “For all the minimalism of his sound, Smith has turned out to be a maximalist in his ambitions, evolving into one of our most powerful storytellers, an heir to American chroniclers like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman.”