|Wadada Leo Smith — America’s National Parks (Jan. 16th, 2017)|
Wadada Leo Smith — America’s National Parks (Jan. 16th, 2017) •ς• “Smith uses his magisterial instrumental voice, his inspirational leadership and his command of classical, jazz and blues forms to remind us of what has gone down and what's still happening.” — DownBeat’s 80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today
•ς• “A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight.” — The New York TimesBorn: December 18, 1941, Leland, Mississippi, U.S.
Album release: Jan. 16th, 2017
Record Label: Cuneiform Records
1.) New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718 20:59
2.) Eileen Jackson Southern,1920~2002: A Literary National Park 9:40
3.) Yellowstone: The First National Park and the Spirit of America — The Mountains, Super~Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872 12:34
1.) The Mississippi River: Dark and Deep Dreams Flow the River — a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC 31:09
2.) Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks: The Giant Forest, Great Canyon, Cliffs, Peaks, Waterfalls and Cave Systems 1890 6:48
3.) Yosemite: The Glaciers, the Falls, the Wells and the Valley of Goodwill 1890 15:23
• Wadada Leo Smith — trumpet, director of the ensemble
• Anthony Davis — piano
• Ashley Walters — cello
• John Lindberg — bass
• Pheeroan akLaff — drums•ς• With America’s National Parks, visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith offers his latest epic collection, a six~movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes. Writing for his newly expanded Golden Quintet, Smith crafts six extended works that explore, confront and question the preserved natural resources that are considered the most hallowed ground in the U.S. — and some that should be.
•ς• America’s National Parks was released shortly before Smith’s 75th birthday in December, arriving, coincidentally, in the midst of celebrations for the centennial of the National Park Service, which was created by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916. The spark for the project, however, came from two places: Smith’s own research into the National Park system, beginning with Yellowstone, the world’s first national park; and Ken Burns’ 12~hour documentary series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.
•ς• “The idea that Ken Burns explored in that documentary was that the grandeur of nature was like a religion or a cathedral,” Smith says. “I reject that image because the natural phenomenon in creation, just like man and stars and light and water, is all one thing, just a diffusion of energy. My focus is on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of the idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens.”
•ς• His 28~page score for America’s National Parks was penned for his Golden Quintet, a fresh reconfiguration of the quartet that’s been a keystone of his expression for the last 16 years. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff are joined by cellist Ashley Walters, affording the composer and bandleader new melodic and coloristic possibilities. “The cello as a lead voice with the trumpet is magnificent,” Smith says, “but when you look at the possibilities for melodic formation with the trumpet, the cello, the piano and the bass, that’s paradise for a composer and for a performer.”
•ς• While these preserved landscapes offer the inspiration of powerful natural beauty, Smith’s always open~minded view of the world leads him to find that same inspiration wherever he is. “Every concrete house is from nature,” he says. “Every plastic airplane that flies 300 people across the ocean comes out of nature. Every air conditioner conditions a natural piece of air. I think that the human being is constantly enfolded in organic nature and constructed nature, so I’m constantly inspired, inside the house or outside the house.”
•ς• America’s National Parks press release
•ς• “Mr. Smith, a trumpeter of fiery purpose and intrepid imagination” — New York Times
•ς• 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).
•ς• 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.
•ς• 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...”
•ς• 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.
•ς• “Smith is a true master, and America’s National Parks is one of his most visionary works” — The Quietus
•ς• 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 Best Jazz Album of 2016 by The Quietus
• #1 on Dusted’s Best of 2016
• #2 on NPR Jazz Critics’ Poll
• #6 on Slates’ Best Jazz Albums of 2016
• The New York Time’s Best Albums of 2016
• #1 on El Intruso’s Ninth Annual International Critics Poll
• #1 Jazz CD by The Wire, ... and many others
•ς• 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.
•ς• “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
America the Beautiful:
Protecting America’s Natural Heritage
•ς• “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
•ς• 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.”
•ς• 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.
•ς• Now it’s 2017.
•ς• A lot has changed in the USA within a year, since Cuneiform sent out that August 2016 announcement.
•ς• As 2016 ended, President Obama’s second term came to a close. In January 2017, President Trump began his term in office.
2017’s Artist of the Year
•ς• “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
•ς• 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.
•ς• 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.”
•ς• 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.
By NATE CHINEN, DEC. 28, 2016
|Wadada Leo Smith — America’s National Parks (Jan. 16th, 2017)|