Rastafari
Boxholder BHX 035

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Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, harmonica

The Bill Smith Ensemble:
Bill Smith - saophones, clarinet
David Prentice - violin
David Lee - bass & cello
Larry Potter - vibraphone

press reviews

This is a reissue of modern jazz-avant-garde trumpeter Leo Smith’s fine 1983 LP for the Canadian “Sackville Records,” label. This edition includes the original album cover art and Bill Shoemaker’s liner notes. Here, Smith performs with woodwind artist, Bill Smith and his violin, bass/cello and vibraphone ensemble for an adventurous set, tinged with freely improvised movements.

The musicians engage in a deceptively complex series of exchanges, marked by polytonal interplay, where vibist Larry Potter provides a high end sheen to the overall proceedings. On pieces such as “Madder Lake,” violinist David Prentice’s staccato lines mesh rather nicely with Leo Smith’s raspy toned choruses and rapid single note flurries. Other highlights include the group’s sonorous, chamber-like endeavors and sequential soloing spots. They often pursue a round-robin type of approach, embroidered with changeable themes amid mood-evoking passages. Overall, this outing signifies a worthy and relatively important re-release for the trumpeter’s legion of admirers.

- Glenn Astarita
jazzreview.com

LEO SMITH & THE BILL SMITH ENSEMBLE
Rastafari (Boxholder 035)
Downtown Music Gallery

This is reissue of a Sackville studio date from 1983 which features Leo Smith on trumpets, Bill Smith on clarinet & soprano saxes, David Prentice on violin, David Lee on bass & cello and Larry Potter on vibes. AACM trumpet hero and multi-dimensional composer, Leo Smith, has had a long and diverse career in music making and teaching. The AACM philosophy, which flowered in the sixties, taught a healthy respect for the many genres, influences and histories of music, without the baggage of categorization. Leo Smith has worked his way through disciplines and embraced various philosophies, utilizing jazz, blues, classical and even ideas. On this unique studio date, he worked with the Toronto based quartet led by the great modern clarinetist, Bill Smith. "Rastafari" opens with Leo chanting that very word, but quickly we enter a world somewhere between modern classical and avant-jazz, with exquisitely written material which is tight, focused and pretty quirky sound-wise. Beautifully recorded and well balanced, this music is complex, challenging and fascinating to take in. The rich harmonies of the muted trumpet, soprano sax, strings and vibes, is never dense, but spacious and strangely enchanting. This ensemble appears to be a perfect match for Leo's enduring playing and ever-inspired composing. Occasionally sublime and often superb on many levels.


Dusted Magazine.com
Leo Smith with the Bill Smith Ensemble
Rastafari (Boxholder)

The original cover of the 1983 Sackville Records LP features a picture of the artist looking enigmatically at the camera like a Kingston rude boy on the cover of a reggae import. The chant at the beginning of the album, however, makes it clear that there will be no reminiscing about government mansions down in Trenchtown; no punky reggae free jazz party here. Instead, Smith assumes the voice of a wise and aging spiritual leader, preaching to the faithful. Without warning, the rest of the ensemble bursts in with a flourish of barely tonal string thrusts. They quickly take hold of the chant, spinning it off into unexpected territory.

- Dave Morris


1. Rastafari

2. Ritual

3. Madder Lake

4. Little Bits



© 1997-2011 Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith