Wadada Leo Smith
Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk

Wadada Leo Smith — trumpet

“What Monk’s music illustrate is silence, not as a moment of absence, or a space for resting, but as a vital field where musical ideas exist as a result of what was played before and afterword. Silence.”

The project evolves around my solo recording of four compositions of Monk, as well as my dedications to him.

My solo Thelonious Monk project is conceived as music with video-image projections, which consist mostly of images of Monk and relevant photographs of that era. Those images will be mixed with live on-stage screening of the performance.

I envision this project being performed in large and small venues, with a proper technical support.

Wadada Leo Smith’s RedKoral Quartet

Shalini Vijayan — violin
Mona Thian — violin
Andrew McIntosh — viola
Ashley Walters — cello

My vision of music creation is centered in the twelve string quartets that I have composed so far. Those writings began in 1963, after hearing Ornette Coleman’s recording of ‘Dedication to Poets and Writers’ (1962). His work illustrated that one could use creativity and freedom as a major source in addition to inspiration in constructing a work of art.

A majority of my string quartets have some elements of the create and ankhrasmation language, and the ensemble forms. The scores are essentially non-metric, and a full page represents a complete “bar” length, with no maintaining of the concept of downbeat and upbeat idea. The ensemble’s leadership articulation continuously fluctuates from person to person as the decision for continuity keeps changing from page to page.

Wadada Leo Smith’s Najwa

Wadada Leo Smith — trumpet
Brandon Ross — guitar
Lamar Smith — guitar
Henry Kaiser — guitar
Michael Gregory — guitar
Bill Laswell — electric bass
Pheeroan Aklaff — drums

Najwa is a project ensemble organized to present an electric music idiom. This ensemble use my language and systems that I have developed and are fundamental to the practice of making music.

Our music is an expression of a polycentric – polytonal and multi-layered grid for collective creation in performance.

Each member has the right and responsibility to creatively organize the ensemble’s musical space and ideas as it moves across the performance dimension.

The value we place on electronics is communal in character and has a philosophy centered in the art of sound making, and is not noise based.

Najwa’s music is powerfully electric and electronic in nature; fiery and interactive in character; contemporary, spiritual and politically conscious, and its creative energy is heartfelt and connected with the human feeling.

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet and Quintet

Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet
Anthony Davis – piano
John Lindberg – bass
Ashley Walters – cello
Pheeroan akLaff – drums

Golden Quartet and Quintet are ensembles of master composers – performers, whose experimental practice utilizes the quartet form, which is the purest foundation of musical expression in jazz music, creative music and western, and other music cultures.

As multi-instrumentalists they are concerned with a practice and research that involves an array of complex systemic forms, where the musical languages of composition, create, and ankhrasmation are merged seamlessly in their interactive development in the quartet and are manifested in the performance dimension as a single music language.

Golden Quartet and Quintet music is fiery, explosive, with comprehensive multiple surges of musical activity happening simultaneously; as well as a positive creative energy-force that’s constructed with polycentric melodic, sonic, create and rhythm units. The ensemble’s textural and structural materials reveal a musical terrain that is creatively rich and architecturally clear.

Wadada Leo Smith’s Great Lakes Quartet

Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet
Jonathon Haffner – alto & soprano saxophone
John Lindberg – bass
Marcus Gilmore – drums

The ensemble’s sonic waves are reinforced
by the deepest inspired moments.
With interlocking voices they project a majestic melody
That is deep, sweet, with no expectation,
Of something old or new.
Their sonic exploration advance a direction
With sounds locked by rhythm
In their research of mysteries undiscovered.
That’s what the Great Lakes Quartet reveal.

This quartet landed across town under high suspicion.
peaceful and silent,
meditative and contemplative,
Was the ensemble’s opening.

In performance, The Great Lakes Quartet create a fiery music, with explosive rhythm units, a comprehensive multiple surges of musical activity that happen simultaneously.

The ensemble illustrates a positive creative energy-force. The music is constructed with polycentric melodic, sonic, create and rhythm units. The ensemble’s textural and structural materials reveal a musical terrain that is creatively rich and architecturally clear, thus knitting together the hearts of both the musicians and their audience.

Wadada Leo Smith’s Silver Orchestra

Silver Orchestra is an ensemble consisting of twelve instrumentalists and was created with a vision that concerns an exploration of musical languages and systems with a developed experimental performance practice for the larger ensemble.

The creative orchestra as a unit is a perfect universe organized by the musical director as a utopian model. This model is also a social organism which functions within the context of democratic ideas and embodies the individual and the collective expressions. Silver Orchestra’s music is the result of the particular view of its creator, the composer/improviser/performer.

Sonic-unit fields within the context of the performance space are used to redefine and orchestrate a complex music field where the relations of its instrumental tonalities, sound, rhythm, range, weight, spatial depth, silence, and space (horizontal and vertical); its velocity/density/textural structure (with their rates of evolution scored) are the elements of building a new creative orchestra. With this musical construction, the Silver Orchestra creates a multi-sonic spectrum, that when realized in performance is much larger in sound form than ensembles employing the triadic and harmonic traditions.

The rhythm-unit fields play a vital role as to how the sonic fields will shapes the philosophical and psychological meaning that is always inherited within every constructed music object. To achieve a different ensemble for the composer / improviser /performer I developed a new system of rhythm-unit sets that was non-metrical in design, and would maintain that authentic energy that rhythm has. These rhythm-unit sets were designed to preserve the function of motion / flow activity, and also to articulate an emotional range that contains the same aesthetic beauty which is associated with the practice of metrical rhythms today.

Silver Orchestra’s music is powerful, fiery and polycentric in its interactive character with a contemporary spiritual consciousness that is heartfelt and is connected with the human experience. The ensemble’s textural and structural materials reveal a musical terrain that is creatively rich in its rhythmic / sonic spectrum and architecturally clear in form.