P r e s s
  Q u o t e s
  (click for full reviews below)

"Leo Smith is a remarkable young trumpet player and percussionist..."
--- Peter Occhiogrosso, Soho Weekly News

"
Leo Smith is a trumpeter and composer at the forefront of the
New Creative Music..."
--- Bob Ness, Down Beat

"
Leo Smith is the poet of the AACM."
--- Bob Blumenthal, Down Beat

"
Leo Smith is one of the most vital musicians on the planet today ... To say that Smith is a highly original player would be an understatement."
--- Bill Shoemaker, Coda

"
Smith is a player of great gifts..."
--- David Skiles, Coda

"
Smith's trumpet mastery is unquestionable..."
--- Litweiler, Down Beat

"
Smith's horn style is saturated with the history of the modern jazz trumpet... There is much of Miles Davis in Smith's playing of the "silences"... and there are deep shades of Fats Navarro in Smith's essentially "melodic", lyrical, even "classical" technique which remains firmly grounded in traditional ideas of tonal "beauty".
--- Thomas Albright., San Francisco Chronicle

"
Mr. Smith is a careful improvisor... in this idiom (shifting instrumental colors and thematically oriented improvisations) Mr. Smith has few peers..."
--- Robert Palmer, New York Times

"There is a remarkable cleanliness to
Smith's music."
--- Gary Giddens, Village Voice

"....long arching phrases flow from
Smith's horn..."
--- Staples, Down Beat

"... inspiration is the function of the hero; and Leo Smith is a hero of American Music."
--- Bill Shoemaker

"Equally heavy, though much more rewarding, was the solo trumpet set by Wadada Leo Smith. He has such a commanding mastery of delicate forms that the organic waves of sound he created turned everyone's heads inside out. During his two sets, the big room took on the feel of a religious retreat, and rivers of karmic goodness flowed like the purest honey."
---
BENOIT CHAPUT & BYRON COLEY, The Wire

"It worked especially well when, for the final work, the great improv trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith blazed his way through his Tao-Njia with the ensemble in hot pursuit: sinuous, smoky waves of sound freely bending, darting off in immaculately controlled explosions ending (as doesn't always happen in new music) far too soon against the audience's hopes."
--- Alan Rich, LA Weekly

"As usual, Smith surrounds his carefully measured melodic statements with the judicious use of silence. Few trumpeters of the modern era have equaled his seamless marriage of lyricism, especially when he uses a mute. and extended technique - the sour smears, blubbery effects - sometimes combined in the same phrase. He uses electronics to alter his sere tone, thickening his striated cries or enhancing their brittleness."
--- Peter Margasak, Downbeat

"Leo Smith's concert was one of the L.A. area's finest jazz events that year, ... Electro-acoustic timbres and shifting relationships of structure and improvisation conspired toward a refreshing new entity in the jazz scene, with echoes of '70s Miles electric-jazz voodoo, AACM ideals and something new and personal."
--- Josef Woodard, Jazz Times

"Smith is working at his highest level since the mid '70s. This quartet - with its combination of maturity, craftsmanship, and sense of adventure - is the perfect band to realize Smith's deepening vision."
--- Ed Hazell, Boston Globe

"Smith, in his 60s, is not only as inventive and adventurous as he was when he was a younger player, but his creativity and ability to direct a band into new territory is actually farther reaching than ever before. This is brilliant work."
--- Thom Jurek, All Music.com

"Wadada Leo Smith is best known as a trumpeter with a huge reach, a singular sound thinker whose interrogating approach to the instrument - blowing into the bell, playing with just the mouthpiece, building in the sound of the valves - has pushed the instrument into whole new areas."
--- David Kennan, Sunday Herald

"Smith elicits a symphony of sounds from his trumpet."
--- Steve Greenlee, jazztimes.com

"Wadada Leo Smith is consistently adventurous trumpeter who has stuck to playing avant-garde jazz throughout his career."
--- Scott Yanow, allmusic.com

"Wadada Leo Smith spans everything. He is lyrical, intense, soaring, powerful, meditative, hard, soft, deep ... and offering lots of space to the other players."
--- Stef Gijsells, freejazzblogspot.com

"A venerable vanguard rebel for four decades, trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith shows his cutting-edge artistry remains razor sharp on this disc graced with crackling technique, free expression and passion for the beautiful and the spiritual."
--- Owen McNally, The Hartford Courant

"Smith makes his trumpet a clarion call for change."
--- Jerry D'Souza, allaboutjazz.com




please visit CD release pages
and ensemble pages for more reviews


Downbeat Magazine Review ****
"Wisdom in Time" - Wadada Leo Smith & Günter Baby Sommer

by Peter Margasak
July 2007



New York Times Review of Golden Quartet Performance

Wadada Leo Smith
and Alan Kushan
Merkin Concert Hall

by Nate Chinen
Saturday December 3, 2005



THE WIRE
SUONI PER Il POPOLO

LA SA LA ROSSA/ CASA DEL POPOLO
MONTREAL, CANADA

BY BENOIT CHAPUT & BYRON COLEY

Montreal's Suoni Per Il Popolo festival is different from many others in that it was not initially conceived as a jazz festival. Programmed to take up almost the entire month of June, at one large venue (Sala) and one small one (Casa), the invited artists have always been more a function of the promoters' wide-ranging taste for liberation than anything doctrinaire. There's also a manifest commitment to presenting new (sometimes unlikely) pairings, with results ranging from the spectacular to the disastrous. But those are the rewards and punishments of running an aesthetically free festival. Friction is a natural byproduct.

No reason to dwell on the dysfunctional couplings, except for the Peter Brotzmann & Sam Shalabi duet, which was one of the festival's most hotly anticipated nights. Multi-instrumentalist Shalabi was playing electric guitar, Brotzmann had his usual complement of woodwinds. The night before, Brotzmann had played a great, openly communicative set with drummer Nasheet Waits. Waits seemed too deep into an Art Blakey African Beat mode and the whole thing clicked. Consequently, tongues were damp with anticipation for the next night. But from the start, Shalabi and Brotzmann cohered far less than hoped. Shalabi's amp blew up and, following a break, things went further awry. The replacement amp was quite a bit louder than the first, and it was pointed directly at Brotzmann. So when Shalabi started channeling Rudolph Grey, Brotzmann was sonically swamped. Tension built for a while, then communication seemed to completely break down, and Brotzmann left the stage abruptly. Hard to figure out exactly what transpired, but it was a real disappointment, since the parts of their collaboration that did cohere were incredible.

Equally heavy, though much more rewarding, was the solo trumpet set by Wadada Leo Smith. The sound was extremely minimal and quiet. Throughout, Smith looked as cool as a beatific university professor and as concentrated as a star cluster. He has such a commanding mastery of delicate forms that the organic waves of sound he created turned everyone's heads inside out. During his two sets, the big room took on the feel of a religious retreat, and rivers of karmic goodness flowed like the purest honey.



Second Thoughts
by Alan Rich -
LA Weekly,
November 1-7, 1996

You could not mistake last week's California EAR Unit program, opening the Monday Evening Concerts series at the County Museum, for anything out of the convoluted worlds of Ives or Mahler, yet the element of eclecticism was an important motivating force here as well. The essence of pop -jazz, improv, even a ballad or two - provided much of the coloration in five large-scale works meant to be heard in a concert context (i.e., respectful silence, with applause only at the end). Some of it worked.

It worked especially well when, for the final work, the great improv trumpeter
Wadada Leo Smith blazed his way through his Tao-Njia with the ensemble in hot pursuit: sinuous, smoky waves of sound freely bending, darting off in immaculately controlled explosions ending (as doesn't always happen in new music) far too soon against the audience's hopes.



A Lot of Night Music
by Alan Rich -
LA Weekly, March 28 - April 3,1997


Monday, March 17. The CalArts contingent took over tonight's Green Umbrella concert at the Japan America Theater as part of the school's annual springtime new-music festival. I can remember earlier festivals - from around 1978, say - as genuinely horizon- expanding events, gatherings of worldwide innovators with new and challenging definitions of what music is all about. John Cage showed up, and Morty Feldman and Iannis Xenakis; for a couple of weeks each year we all felt suspended over a precipice. Has that spirit truly died? Tonight we had composers pushing notes around, justifying themselves by proclaiming alliances with grand bygone philosophies; the crackle of dry bones resounded through the hall. And then, in the last piece,
Leo Wadada Smith's Nur; Luminous: Light Upon Light, a roomful of reawakened hearers followed Bert Turetzky's solo double bass down a long, resonant corridor, and at the end the solo oboe of Allan Vogel rose like a shaft of clear light and traced a jazz tune, pure and beautiful. We had waited through two hours in the gloomy reaches of other people's solemn, self-congratulatory note spinning in hopes for this kind of light at the end. There, finally, it was.



© 1997-2011 Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith