Southwest Chamber Music
Wadada Leo Smith

Composer Portrait Series


Cambria 8809

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Four Chamber Music Compositions
by Wadada Leo Smith

Dorothy Stone - flute | Agnes Gottschewski, Christine Frank - violins
Jan Karlin - viola | Maggie Edmondson - cello | Stuart Fox - guitar


I composed my first composition when I was 12 years old; it was a work for three trumpets. From that time period forward I considered myself a composerperformer. My formal studies began with Earl Jones and Henderson Howard who were my school bandmasters; Mr. Howard was also my trumpet master. My stepfather Alex Wallace introduced me to the art of music improvisation. At 13 1 began to perform in blues bands all across the Mississippi delta.

Music research began after composing my trumpet trio; I first looked for the African American composers. I came across the names of Scott Joplin, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington, W.C. Handy and Blind Tom. There was very little information regarding the lives of these composers. I began to investigate a wider sphere of music cultures, taking the world as my largest cultural field with all the rights and privilege accorded to humankind.

In 1964 1 purchased a Deutsche Gramophone box set of three discs containing all six of Béla Bartók string quartets composed from 1908-1939. A few years later I was given a score book of Bartók's Six String Quartets - I've been studying these scores ever since. The greatest influence and my largest research model for the string quartet has been Béla Bartók, Charles Ives, Ornette Coleman and John Cage.


a u d i o   s a m p l e s

click links below for mp3 clips

1. Grand Oak Trees at Dawn
for solo flute

2. String Qusrtet No. 1

3. String Qusrtet No. 3
"Black Church"

4. Bardsdale
for solo guitar




© 1997-2011 Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith