The Latest News from Wadada and Upcoming Performance Dates

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Wadada Leo Smith tops 3 categories in DownBeat Magazine's 65th Annual Critics Poll
and is featured in DownBeats' August 2017 cover story

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.


Wadada Leo Smith receives 2016 Mohn Career Achievement Award

The Hammer Museum at UCLA has announced the recipients of its Made In L.A. 2016 Mohn Awards. Among the recipients is jazz trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, who received the Museum's $25,000 Career Achievement Award.

Trumpeter, composer, musical visionary Wadada Leo Smith
receives 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) today announced that the boldly original composer, trumpeter and Pulitzer Finalist Wadada Leo Smith has been named a 2016 Doris Duke Artist. Smith is one of twenty-one awardees appointed in recognition of their creative vitality and ongoing contributions to the fields of dance, jazz and theater. 

“To receive the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award is the highest honor," said Smith. "It celebrates my achievements as a creative composer and performer in an art form that transcends boundaries. With the support of the Doris Duke Foundation, I now have the unique opportunity to develop a fresh connection to my art and to my community.”

Read full press release (.pdf)

Wadada's new album with Vijay Iyer on the ECM label, "A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke" is now available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon. The album release date is March 25. Wadada and Vijay's tour dates and locations can be seen here.

"A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke" brings Vijay Iyer together with the mighty trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, for what The New Yorker has described as "discourses both cultivated and passionate." Vijay has previously played extensively with Wadada in Smith's Golden Quartet, but this album, produced by Manfred Eicher and recorded at New York's Avatar Studios last October, is the first documentation of their duo work. The centerpiece of the album is the spellbinding title suite, dedicated to Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990), the innovative Indian artist whose improvisatory imagery evokes abstracted rhythms. Trumpet and piano interact here with creative sensitivity to tone, texture and space.   Wadada Leo Smith - "A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke"

Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith begin a series of engagements with the premiere of "A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke" at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in the context of a major exhibition dedicated to Nasreen Mohamedi's art and writings

Wadada was awarded "Composer of the Year" in the 19th annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards.

Wadada was voted #2 in the 2015 DownBeat Critics Poll "Best Composer" category, and #3 for trumpet. His album "The Great Lakes Suites" was voted #4 Jazz Album of the Year, and he was voted #7 in the Jazz Artist category.

Wadada Leo Smith Residency at The Stone (NYC) in April, 2015

Creative music is the oldest music on the planet.
It doesn’t need to be revolutionized or updated.

The boldly original composer, trumpeter and Pulitzer Finalist Wadada Leo Smith presents 44 Years: Retrospective (A.A.C.M. 50th Anniversary), featuring twelve ensembles + video, Tuesday, April 21 – Sunday, April 26, 2015 at The Stone, Corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street, New York City. All shows $20.

More info on each concert here.

Wadada Leo Smith is listed in DownBeat's July 2014 issue as
"One of the 80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today":

NEW! - video of Wadada and the Golden Quartet performing
"September 11th, 2001: A Memorial
" live at Café OTO, London Nov., 2013

Wadada Leo Smith has been voted "Composer of the Year"
in the 2013 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll!

Read the interview/article here or download pdf  

Wadada was also voted "#3 Jazz Artist of the Year" and
Ten Freedom Summers "#2 Jazz Album of the Year"

and "#2 Trumpeter of the Year"

Wadada Leo Smith has been announced as a finalist for the most prestigious award in music - the Pulitzer Prize!

Howard Reich wrote a nice article in the Chicago Tribune.
(view as PDF    ) awards 2013  
press release

A very interesting article and interview with Wadada by Daniel Fischlin:
Improvocracy, or Improvising the Civil Rights Movement in Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers

Please note that sometime on or before 9.7.12 Wadada's website will only be available at as the CalArts server is shutting down. Please update your links.

Wadada's epic composition Ten Freedom Summers has been released on Cuneiform Records (May 2012) and has received great early reviews and wide acclaim. It is currently a featured CD for August 2012 at the BBC Music Magazine , where they state: "Ten Freedom Summers truly deserves to be described as a masterpiece: 19 pieces across four CDs, encompassing more than four hours of music, composed by Wadada Leo Smith over the last 34 years." More info on the CD here.

Wadada announces upcoming performances worldwide of his epic work Ten Freedom Summers - 5 hours of music inspired by the American Civil rights movement, with performances in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ann Arbor, MI and NYC. He also has upcoming performances in London UK. Check Wadada's tour dates here.

Wadada's upcoming performance dates can now be seen on Facebook .

Wadada will be performing with his Golden Quartet at FIMAV (Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada on Saturday, May 19, 2012. FIMAV is North America’s premier festival of avant-garde music. Also performing in the same concert will be BLIXT (Bill Laswell / Raoul Björkenheim / Morgan Ågren).

Wadada is interviewed and the cover feature in InSound magazine (Italy) and Jazz PT (Portugal):



Wadada's Organic Heart's Reflections double CD release on Cuneiform Records has received much critical acclaim.

Southwest Chamber Music Society (Pasadena, CA) is awarded a Multi-Arts Production Fund grant and a National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence grant to support Ten Freedom Summers, a recording and national performance tour of a new work by composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith inspired by the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1964. Ten Freedom Summers is a three-evening musical composition by Wadada Leo Smith, which will be performed by Smith’s dynamic Golden Quartet, joined by Southwest Chamber Music and conducted by Grammy Award–winner Jeff von der Schmidt. This large multimovement work is inspired by the activity of the civil rights movement from 1954–1964. The composition is in suite form and reflects the spiritual condition and attitude surrounding many incidents that changed American social history.

The music of Ten Freedom Summers is a psychological interpretation of the events pertinent to the struggle for civil rights, not a pictorial or cinematic treatment that musically describes each event or situation. The trajectory of the three-concert experience is: Concert One—America Part 1 & Part 2, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party 1964, Rosa Parks, and The Freedom Riders Ride; Concert Two—Dred Scott 1857, Democracy, Buzzsaw: The Myth of the Free Press, September 11, 2001, and People of the Shahada; Concert Three—Brown v. Board of Education 1954, Little Rock Nine 1957,Freedom Summer 1964, LBJ Civil Rights Act 1964, and Martin Luther King, Jr.—Memphis Prophecy and Assassination. The world premiere will take place October 28–30, 2011, at REDCAT at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California.

Wadada's new CD release The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer has received wide acclaim.
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. It's been selected on many Top Albums of the 2010 lists, including The Village Voice and Jazz Journalists's Association. read more ...

Two new digital releases of Yo Miles! - Shinjuku and Lightning, featuring new studio recordings and live performances. Yo Miles! is the celebrated collaboration of Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Kaiser formed in 1998 to explore, expound and expand on Miles Davis’ mid-70s electric music. The all-star personnel is culled from both the jazz and rock communities.

New Reviews of Wadada's Golden Quartet performance at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, and some new interviews and articles.

New Reviews and Interviews with Wadada from Spain

Chamber Music America has awarded Wadada Leo Smith and Golden Quartet a 2010 New Jazz Works: Commissioning, Ensemble Development, with an extended Life of the Work grant.
Wadada Leo Smith will compose Ten Freedom Summers for Golden Quartet, a large work inspired by the activity of the civil rights movement from 1954-1964. It will be a suite in three movements, “Brown v. Board of Education”- 1954, “Little Rock Nine”- 1957 , and “Freedom Summer”-1964 . The Ten Freedom Summers is commissioned by Chamber Music America with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The Brooklyn Public Library concert of Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet October 28, 2010.
This performance is the world premiere of the music Wadada composed while a 2009/2010 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. As a Fellow he composed five compositions: Dred Scott- 1857; September Eleventh - 2001; Democracy; Buzzsaw: The Myth of the Free Press; and People of the Shahada. These compositions are part of a larger compositional collection, America. America is a music that is the result of his research and reflection on the philosophical, social and political history of United States of America.

A great artist profile of Wadada by Lyn Horton at
Wadada Leo Smith: A Vital Life Force - (.pdf)

Wadada is featured on the cover of both the January, 2010 issue of Jazziz and the February, 2010 issue of The Wire!


Wadada's CD's are featured on "Top 10 CD's of 2009" lists: 

The Denver Post
| Público (Portugal) | Los Angeles Times | Boston Globe

Wadada is "Musician of the Year" on and Blue Lake Radio

Wadada was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2009-2010)

Review of Wadada and the Golden Quartet in Hollywood - LA Times:
"The trumpeter taps into Miles Davis' fire and finesse Saturday night at Barnsdall Gallery Theater."



Upcoming Performances

Wadada's Upcoming Concert Dates can also be found on Facebook

January 2017

January 6
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Wigmore Hall
36 Wigmore St, London W1U 2BP, United Kingdom

January 7
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Club Żak
80 266 Gdańsk, Grunwaldzka 195/197

January 8
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Lantaren Venster
Otto Reuchlinweg 996, 3072 MD Rotterdam, Netherlands

January 9
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Harpa Concert Hall
2,, Austurbakki, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

January 11
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Philharmonie Chamber Hall
1 Place de l'Europe, 1499 Luxembourg

January 12
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Kölner Philharmonie
Bischofsgartenstraße 1, 50667 Köln, Germany

January 13
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Brussels Jazz Festival
Studio 4
Place Sainte-Croix, 1050 Brussels

January 15
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Teatro Manzoni
Via Alessandro Manzoni, 42, 20121 Milano, Italy

January 17
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer duo
Sons D'Hiver Festival
Espace Jean Vilar, Arcueil, France


March 2017

March 11
Wadada Leo Smith & Kenny Werner, piano
Sheen Center - Loreto Theater
18 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012


April 2017

April 8 & 9
Wadada Leo Smith and others
WORLD PREMIERE of Wadada's latest composition:
Firehouse 12
New Haven, CT


June 2017

June 8
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer
Ojai Music Festival
The Libbey Bowl
210 S. Signal St. Ojai, CA 93023

June 15
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer & others
Ojai At Berkeley
Zellerbach Hall
101 Zellerbach Hall #4800, Berkeley, CA 94720


July 2017

July 16
Wadada Leo Smith with Barre Phillips/Bass And Baby Sommer/Drums
Berlin, Germany
20h (8pm)

July 18
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer
Molde International Jazz Festival
Storyville Jazz Club
Molde, Norway


August 2017

August 4
Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer
Newport Jazz Festival

Fort Adams Harbor Stage
Newport, RI


Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer at the Newport Jazz Festival

October 2017

October 13
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet
Performing First Portion of
Ten Freedom Summers

with Live Video Projections
By Video Artist Jesse Gilbert
Venue TBA
Houston, TX

October 14
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet
Performing Second Portion of
Ten Freedom Summers

with Live Video Projections
By Video Artist Jesse Gilbert
Venue TBA
Austin, TX

October 15
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet
Performing Third Portion of
Ten Freedom Summers

with Live Video Projections
By Video Artist Jesse Gilbert
Venue TBA
New Orleans, LA


Wadada's Upcoming Concert Dates can also be found on Facebook

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