"Organic’s music is powerfully electric and electronic in nature; fiery and interactive in character; contemporary, spiritual and politically conscious, its creative energy is heartfelt and connected with the human feeling."
– Wadada Leo Smith
Although he made his reputation over decades and decades of work in the free jazz and improvised music realm and as a early member of Chicago's hugely influencial AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music), trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has long been interested in larger ensembles and electric music as well.
Heart’s Reflections is a bold double-disc set that features Wadada Leo Smith's Organic, a predominately electric, fourteen-piece group, a band most notable for a lineup marked by four guitarists. In addition to Smith, who plays both acoustic and electric trumpet, the extraordinary lineup on Heart’s Reflection includes: Brandon Ross, Michael Gregory, Lamar Smith, and Josh Gerowitz on guitar; Skuli Sverrisson and John Lindberg on bass; Angelica Sanchez on acoustic and electric piano; Stephanie Smith on violin; Casey Anderson on alto saxophone; Casey Butler on tenor saxophone; Mark Trayle and Charlie Burgin on laptops; and Pheeroan AkLaff on drums.
For a record by such a large group, at times the sound is surprisingly sparse and delicate - both qualities that have long marked Smith's work, while at other times, it sizzles and stomps! Though longtime listeners who haven't followed Wadada's work in the last decade might be surprised at times by the fierceness of Organic’s rhythm section, Heart’s Reflections is nonetheless marked by the trumpeter’s usual touchstones: long sustained notes, occasional clipped phrases, and a tough-to-define playfulness that infuses all of his work.
Coming across like the next evolutionary step after Miles Davis’ electric era, Heart’s Reflections is a vibrant set that harkens back to the blues influence of Smith’s Mississippi childhood, and looks forward to still-developing realms of noise and electronics. The album fuses a galaxy of influences into a natural and accessible form, offering an ideal entry point into Smith’s vast oeuvre. Heart’s Reflections should appeal to fans of groove-oriented jazz, as well as rock and electronics audiences with a taste for adventure.
r e v i e w s
"This is again fabulous music, very much in the vein of his previous album "Spiritual Dimensions". They take the electric Miles Davis legacy and push it into today's world. It is funky, hypnotic, tribal, spiritual, uplifting ... with pumping basses, soaring trumpets, shredding guitars, polypolyrhythmic drums. The overall sound, the variation between slow spiritual moments and almost danceable uptempo pieces, the instrumental prowess, the interplay, the unbelievable feeling to be one with it all, because it resonates so deeply with everything that feels true and warm and human. Once you're in it, you don't want it to stop."
- Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz Blogspot (read more)
"For trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, more is always more. Organic, one of Smith's numerous working bands, is a continuation of his Yo Miiles! project with guitarist Henry Kaiser, the jazz/rock love child of Miles Davis' electric era. Organic was first recorded as the second disc on Smith's Spiritual Dimensions (Cuneiform, 2009), and is positioned to take Yo Miles! one step beyond with an electric sound that begins with the blues and funk, then evolves into modern composition."
- Mark Corroto, All About Jazz.com (read more)
"This new double-disk recording of Smith with his Organic band (four guitars, two basses, drums, violin, two saxes, keyboards and two laptops), is arguably the trumpeter’s most fully realized musical statement to date."
Bill Tilland, Option Magazine (read more)
"Heart's Reflection is one of those secret weapons in an artist's arsenal that very few people may hear about. In the vast catalogue of Wadada Leo Smith, Heart's Reflection is an album that deserves your undivided attention."
- Vern, Jazz Wrap Blogspot (read more)
"The balance between groove and gentle exploration is retained throughout both discs of this nearly two-hour set, and while listening to it as a marathon session may be challenging, there's not a moment here that feels ill-conceived or superfluous. This is a masterwork by one of the great heroes of American avant-garde jazz."
- Phil Freeman, all music.com (read more)
"Heart’s Reflections” is the latest in a songbook of incredible depth and power. Wadada Leo Smith deserves more attention; Cuneiform are doing their part to promote this master (this is his fifth release for them), and there is something for everyone to enjoy or be tested by here, so this would be a good intro for someone unfamiliar with Smith’s work. But to hear it is to be hooked, so look out."
- Mike Wood, foxydigitalis.com (read more)
"This is really an extraordinary piece of work that Smith has released, rivaling anything he has done over the course of his lengthy career. Drawing upon his own vast experience and that of the masters he has followed, he has developed unique insight into the nature of improvised music that is on full display on this triumphant album."
Tim Niland, allaboutjazz.com (read more)
"Powerfull compositions alternate with spiritual, floating soundscapes. What Wadada Leo Smith's Organic band does, is rather hard to describe. There's funky rhythms with pumping basses on which different people solo, but there's also the very open moments where the trumpet is searching for sounds and melodies. And somehow, this fits together perfectly. I love it."
- United Mutations Blogspot.com (read more)
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