The Blue Mountain's
Sun Drummer

Wadada Leo Smith & Ed Blackwell

Kabell Records / A-Train
Oct. 2010
recorded live in 1986

audio samples


itunes download /CD

This recording documents the first duo performance of two towering figures in American creative music: trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith and the late drummer Ed Blackwell, best known as a member of free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman's quartet. A beautifully recorded radio broadcast from October 1986, this concert between two major figures from two generations of cutting edge American music, brilliantly weds sound, silence and rhythm into a lyrical and swinging performance.

Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet, flugel-horn, flute, marimba, and voice
Ed Blackwell: drums and percussion

Recorded live on October 23, 1986 at Brandeis University, Radio "The Joint" WBRS 100.1 fm.

r e v i e w s

"The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer is a set full of brash, in-your-face spontaneity, which is a meeting of expectations when the musicians at hand are trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Wadada Leo Smith and the late drummer, Ed Blackwell. This earlier career set is a superb addition to Smith's duo discography."
- Dan McClenaghan, >

"Some jazz artists are wildly over-productive, pressing record and releasing the results seemingly every time they put the horn to their lips. Wadada Leo Smith is not one of those artists. Despite being a top-flight improviser, he seems to never play a note, let alone record or release a piece of music, that hasn’t been carefully considered. This album is a valuable addition to his discography, on a par with his studio recordings, and highly recommended."
- Phil Freeman, >

"Smith's trumpet playing is incredibly good as can be expected: he can be intimate and sensitive and bluesy, but he can be expansive, jubilant and soaring. The performance was recorded live on October 23, 1986 at Brandeis University, Massachusetts. That's 24 years ago. The sound quality is excellent. How fantastic that we get to hear this. I hope there are still more gems in a drawer somewhere.

As usual, I can only recommend it. Highly.

Listen to this and you will feel so refreshed.

Just listen to this!"

- Stef Gijsells, free jazz >

"Mto: The Celestial River" is another highlight for Blackwell, while Smith also does some of his finest playing. The switch to flugelhorn on the quiet "Sellassie" brings forth more of Smith's beautiful improvisation and he moves again to flute in midstream with great success during "Seven Arrows in the Garden of Light." Avant garde, yes, but highly accessible due to the high level of the melodic content and the sensitive interplay between two virtuoso musicians, this recording is a testament to a magic moment in time."
- Brad Walseth, >

"A Rare 1986 Wadada Leo Smith Show Surfaces...
Here’s a really cool one from the vaults: a 1986 duo performance at Brandeis University featuring trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith – an early AACM member – and his drummer friend Ed Blackwell, the longtime Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman sideman."
- delarue, >

"This is an unqualified treat. A live recording from 1986 pairing the splendid drum work of Ed Blackwell and the exciting brass, flute and voice of Wadada Leo Smith. "The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer" can and should be listened to in one sitting. There are no weak moments, only the joyous dialogue of 2 musical equals."
- Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest blog >

"Though recorded for a Brandeis University radio show nearly a quarter-century ago, this duo performance by two free-jazz legends has a sparkle, energy and spontaneity that’s as contemporary as anything today."
- Ron Wynn, Option Magazine >

Tim DuRoche's Best of 2010 list
- Jazz Journalists's Association >

Laurence Donohue-Greene's BEST OF 2010
- Jazz Journalists's Association >

The State of Jazz 2010 - Top Ten List
- Tom Hull, The Village Voice >

The 2010 Voice Jazz Critics' Poll - Jazz Albums of the Year
The Village Voice >

a u d i o   s a m p l e s

1. Uprising
2. Love
3. Seeds of a Forgotten Flower
4. The Blue Mountain Sun Drummer
5. Mto: The Celestial River
6. Don't You Remember
7. Sellassie-I
8. Seven Arros in the Garden of Light
9. Buffalo People: A Blues Ritual Dance
10. Albert Ayler In A Spiritual Light

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