Dark Lady of the Sonnets

Wadada Leo Smith's Mbira

Tum CD 023
December 2011

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Wadada Leo Smith's Mbira is an ensemble that works within the idiom of American creative music but also in the realms of the Mbira music of the Shona culture in Zimbabwe and even traditional Chinese music. With pipa player Min Xiao-Fen and drummer Pheeroan akLaff, Wadada Leo Smith has produced an album that is powerful and instantly captivating, ancient and contemporary at the same time. Dark Lady of the Sonnets contains five compositions by Smith, ranging from a memorial for his late mother Sarah Bell Wallace to the title-track inspired by the great Billie Holiday.

r e v i e w s

"Wadada Leo Smith continues to produce music that is very challenging conceptually, and spiritually, but it is always accessible. His many followers and admirers should be thrilled with "Dark Lady of the Sonnets." In this work, he has allowed his creative genius and beautiful spirit, unrestricted entrance to the rhythmic/sonic spectrum and architecturally clear forms that have become the hallmark of his projects. In retrospect, his stated goal for Mbira: "creating an ensemble dedicated to realizing a spiritual music within the American creative music idiom," now seems humble, but within character. To say that, with mutual cooperation and democratic communication, he has successfully melded together the artistic vagaries of two very different, almost opposing cultures, with free expression, tolerance, spirituality, respect and love, would be an understatement."
- C.J. Bond, jazzmusic.com (read more)

"Dark Lady of the Sonnets proves that at 70, Smith has an entire world of sound at his disposal and continues, in a uniquely creative language, to display it seemingly at will."
- Thom Jurek, allmusic.com (read more)

"For the musically adventurous, Dark Lady of the Sonnets is a veritable feast of soulful new sounds, poignantly emotional expressions, and interesting textures from three master musicians who really hear each other on a profound level."
- Dave Wayne, allaboutjazz.com (read more)

"Every few years master composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith surprises with a new outfit that fits wonderfully in his rich and complex musical universe. The Mbira trio is no exception: a timeless, multidimensional trio, inspired by revered ancestors but with its course set for a possible future. A masterpiece, from beginning to end."
- Eyal Hareuveni, allaboutjazz.com (read more)

"In the epic narratives and gorgeous elegies of trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith lies a heart immersed in the spirituality of the blues. His music drinks from an ancient well that predates organized worship and actually resides in one that celebrates the Creator in his awesome glory. "
- Raul D'Gama Rose, allaboutjazz.com (read more)

"Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's life-long creative exploration of sound has come to a new turn with this meeting with pipa player Min Xiao-Fen and drummer Pheeroam akLaff."
- Paul Serralheiro, thesquidsear.com (read more)

"An intriguing, wholly original album."
londonjazz.blogspot.com (read more)

"I'm quite ecstatic about this album. Highly recommended."
- Stef Gijssels, freejazz.blogspot (read more)

"Forget for a minute that Wadada Leo Smith’s new album Dark Lady of the Sonnets, with his trio Mbira, is a summit meeting of three of the most compelling voices in jazz improvisation. More than anything, it’s a celebration of being alive. An intimately majestic, sometimes exuberant, warmly conversational album, it’s a must-own for fans of free jazz."
- lucidculture.wordpress.com (read more)


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