Ten Freedom Summers

Wadada Leo Smith

Cuneiform [Rune 350-353]
CDx4  July 2012

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"Ten Freedom Summers is one of my life's defining works."
- Wadada Leo Smith

"I’ve been blown over by the epic scope. This is an African-American Ring Cycle."
– Jeff von der Schmidt, conductor

“Wadada is one of the most imaginative and explorative composers in creative music. His vision is uncompromising, his methods holistic and mystical. …He is a national treasure.”
- John Zorn in DownBeat, marking the occasion of Wadada Leo Smith’s 70th birthday

“There is a deep code embedded in Wadada’s music that never fails to unlock new revelations for the performer.… For classical and improvising musicians alike, his music always makes us thinking musicians.”
- Anthony Davis, pianist, composer, Golden Quintet member

 World Premiere - Los Angeles, photo: Steve Gunther

Trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers is the work of a lifetime by one of jazz’s true visionaries, a kaleidoscopic, spiritually charged collection of 19 compositions inspired by the struggle for African-American freedom. Triumphant and mournful, visceral and philosophical, searching, scathing and relentlessly humane, Smith’s music embraces the civil rights era’s milestones while celebrating its heroes and martyrs. Blending improvised and notated music in a synthesis of European classical, African American, and creative music practices, the music speaks in a singular, clear and powerful voice unlike any in contemporary music.

Brazil Premiere - Sao Paolo           

Recorded shortly after the music’s October 2011 world premiere in Los Angeles, this four-CD set features one of Smith's most significant working groups, The Golden Quintet with the composer on trumpet, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, and drummers Susie Ibarra and Pheeroan akLaff, as well as the nine-member, Los Angeles-based contemporary classical group, Southwest Chamber Music, under the direction of Grammy-winning conductor Jeff von der Schmidt. It documents a stunning, career-capping accomplishment by a musical giant in the midst of an astonishing creative surge.

As Larry Blumenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal after attending the premiere: “Ten Years in Three Nights: A Decade's Triumph… Ten Freedom Summers was as striking a display of his expansive vision and his vitality. He still plays trumpet as he always has: with little vibrato and a tone that can be either boldly declarative or soft to the point of breaking… Mr. Smith had made his own statement through instrumental music. And it sounded complete.”

Written over that past 34 years, each of the 19 compositions addresses a different facet of the Civil Rights movement of 1954-1964, The music honors heroes and events in a transformative period of political and cultural liberation, a period that not only shaped all aspects of Smith’s life and art, but all of America as well.

Brazil Premiere - Sao Paolo

With its emotional depth and power, formal intricacy and elegance, and clarity of execution, Ten Freedom Summers can take its place among the landmark compositions of the past dedicated to the Civil Rights movement, such as John Coltrane’s “Alabama” and Max Roach’s We Insist: Freedom Now! More than any album in recent memory, these four CDs of ambitious, towering music—by turns majestic, tragic, joyful, and contemplative—feel like one for the ages, an album that generations of future listeners will turn to for inspiration and spiritual refreshment. A classic of American music is born.

CD1: Dred Scott, 1857; Malik Al Shabazz and the People of the Shahada; Emmett Till: Defiant, Fearless; Thurgood Marshall and Brown Vs. Board of Education: A Dream of Equal Education, 1954; John F. Kennedy's New Frontier And The Space Age, 1960.

CD2: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 381 Days; Black Church; Freedom Summer: Voter Registration, Acts Of Compassion and Empowerment, 1964; Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

CD3: The Freedom Riders Ride; Medgar Evers: A Love-Voice of a Thousand Years' Journey for Liberty and Justice; The D.C. Wall: A War Memorial for All Times; Buzzsaw: The Myth of a Free Press; The Little Rock Nine: A Force for Desegregation in Education, 1957.

CD4: America, Pts. 1, 2 & 3; September 11th, 2001: A Memorial; Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, 1964; Democracy; Martin Luther King, Jr.: Memphis, The Prophecy.

Wadada Leo Smith: composer, trumpet; Anthony Davis: piano; John Lindberg: bass; Pheeroan akLaff: drums; Susie Ibarra: drums; Southwest Chamber Music: Alison Bjorkedal: harp; Jim Foschia: clarinet; Lorenz Gamma: violin; Peter Jacobson: cello; Larry Kaplan: flute; Jan Karlin: viola; Tom Peters: bass; Lynn Vartan: percussion; Shalini Vijayan: violin.

r e v i e w s

"Spanning decades of Black History and a fierce range of jazz styles, Wadada Leo Smith's Ten Freedom Summers is a monumetal evocation of America's civil rights movement."
- Bill Shoemaker, The Wire Magazine

"Without doubt Ten Freedom Summers is the crowning achievement of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's distinguished career to date."
- John Sharpe, allaboutjazz.com

“An epic work from the veteran trumpeter, deserving of classic status.”
- Daniel Spicer, BBC

“a monumental evocation of America’s Civil Rights movement.”
- The Wire Magazine

"Ten Freedom Summers is a work of art that is seldom available to experience."
- Lyn Horton

"Even by the standards of Smith's own heterogeneous and energetic creativity, it's in a class by itself."
- Jeff Dayton-Johnson, allaboutjazz.com

"Ten Freedom Summers is a towering work of both composition and improvisation, spread over four discs, evoking in startlingly visceral terms the pivotal events of the American Civil Rights movement. ... this lavish recording – combining a chamber orchestra and Smith’s own quintet - may be fairly described as his magnum opus, a masterpiece from one of the most important free musicians of the 20th century."
- Cormac Larkin, irishtimes.com

"Ten Freedom Summers is an artistic peak in Smith's already impressive musical career. It is also a milestone statement about the societal role of an artist and the arts."
- Eyal Hareuveni, allaboutjazz.com

"Full of melodrama, pathos and hope, this four-CD collection is the veteran trumpeter’s defining statement."
- Mike Hobart, The Financial Times

"Although there are many outstanding recordings in Smith’s canon, it’s hard to avoid calling this his masterpiece. Smith’s own playing is riveting, and all the musicians in both ensembles do him proud."
- Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine

"This is music of the sort that comes along only a few times in any generation. It is a landmark achievement. Ten Freedom Summers will be one of the defining works of our era."
- Grego Applegate Edwards, gapplegatemusicreview.com

"Smith is one of a handful of the most fascinating, exploratory musicians in the art world right now, and I'm willing to follow along on his sonic detours. It's worth an adventure-bound listener's time, and this may as well turn out to be the most challenging (and emotionally rewarding) release of 2012."
- Bret Saunders, The Denver Post

"Ten Freedom Summers is a historical and artistic high landmark achievement for Wadada Leo Smith. The several hours of music contained in these four discs should be an absolute indulgence and joy for fans while providing a challenging welcome for newcomers to this end of the creative universe."
- Mark Redlefsen, allaboutjazz.com

"The scope and depth of this four-CD suite is truly astounding... Indeed, this is his master work to date in a long and illustrious career."
- William Tilland, foxydigitalis.com

"Highly Recommended and a truly staggering work of genius. This really ranks up there as one Wadada Leo Smith's best works."
- Stephan Moore, jazzwrap.blogspot.com

"As free and fluid as much of the interplay here is, the singlemindedness and purposefulness of the playing is stunning. It’s as musically compelling as it is historically important, a triumph for Smith ..."
- Lucid Culture


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