The Jazzcat

Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith  presents the CREATE Festival West, December 15 & 16, 2017  at The Lab in San Francisco

by on Oct.28, 2017, under News

© Michael Jackson
Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith 
presents the CREATE Festival West, December 15 & 16, 2017 
at The Lab in San FranciscoThe festival, which debuted in New Haven in April 2017, goes west to showcase Smith’s visionary compositions   “A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight.”– Nate Chinen, The New York Times

Iconic composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith presents the CREATE Festival West, a two-day celebration and exploration of his inventive and unclassifiable music that will feature classic works alongside world premiere performances. Taking place Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16, 2017 at The Lab, 2948 16th Street, San Francisco, CA, the festival will include performances by seven separate ensembles over two evenings. In addition, Smith will host a workshop, open only to musicians, on his Ankhrasmation Symbolic Language Scores.  A full schedule of events is below. Concerts on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; workshop on Saturday from 1-3 pm. Tickets are $35 per concert; $60 for both concerts.  Workshop is $50. For information, please go to http://www.thelab.org/.

The festival debuted in April 2017 in New Haven, CT where it will continue each year. “This idea had been in a dream state for many, many years,” Smith says. That long-cherished dream is being realized with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which awarded Smith the Doris Duke Artist Award in 2016.

CREATE offers a thrilling, rare opportunity to delve deeply into the full scope of Smith’s sui generis compositional voice and approach, which – in their category-defying range and breadth – can only be classified using Smith’s preferred term, “Creative Music.”

The weekend opens with the premiere of South Central L.A by guitarist Lamar Smith (Wadada’s 22-year-old grandson) leading a trio featuring Hardedge and Pheeroan akLaff.  Friday’s program continues with Wadada Leo Smith’s Silence featuring Smith with David Leikam on Moog synthesizer and Davis on piano; and RedKoral Quartet, a string quartet specially assembled to perform Smith’s music, comprising longtime collaborators Shalini Vijayan and Mona Tian (violins), Andrew McIntosh (viola) and Ashley Walters (cello), joined by Smith and Hardedge.

Both evenings will culminate with a performance of music from “America’s National Parks,” a six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes, performed by Smith’s newly-expanded Golden Quintet: Smith, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, drummer akLaff, and cellist Walters along with video artist Jesse Gilbert. Cuneiform’s 2016 2-CD recording of the work was widely acclaimed, taking its place at or near the top of most annual lists of the year’s best releases. JazzTimes wrote that the album “unites political engagement with a soul-deep connection to nature… rich with ineffable majesty, [the suite] fully engages with tensions at the heart of the American experience.” DownBeatnamed America’s National Parks as the Jazz Album of the Year in its 65thAnnual Critics Poll.

Saturday’s line-up includes a performance by the Bay Area’s Rova, a saxophone quartet featuring Larry Ochs, Bruce Ackley, Jon Raskin and Steve Adams.  Also on the program is Earth featuring Smith, pianist Motoko Honda, haegeum player Soo Yeon Lyuh, and percussionist William Winant; and Pacifica featuring Smith, guitarist Henry Kaiser and bassist Lindberg.

Several of the works will be supplemented by images provided by video artist Gilbert, who Smith says adds integral visual context to the aural elements. “The music and imagery don’t move in separate streams,” he says. “They’re actually intimately connected and responsible for each other, allowing us to create a narrative that transcends space and time. It’s twofold: there’s a technical and musical connection, and then there’s a psychological and historical connection that helps to provide for comprehension of the work.”

In order to further that comprehension, Smith (aided again by Gilbert’s images) will offer an afternoon workshop for musicians on his Ankhrasmation Symbolic Language Scores.

In the end, Smith hopes that audiences who attend the festival will come away “with a deeper understanding of how I make my art. I expect that they’ll be more informed about what my music is and therefore they can create a deeper level of appreciation for what I do. Ultimately I wish to create a dialogue about issues of liberty, democracy, art and the connection between human beings.”

About Wadada Leo Smith

Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Wadada Leo Smithis one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.”

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work.  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.”

In 2017 Smith topped three categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes 2016 Critics Poll: Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.

In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.

Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supremein sobriety and reach.”

Wadada Leo Smith

CREATE Festival West 2017

December 15 & 16
The Lab, 2948 16th St., San Francisco

Friday, December 15: 8:00 p.m.

Lamar Smith / Hardedge / Pheeroan akLaff: 
New Piece / South Central L.A.
Lamar Smith: guitar
Hardedge: soundesign
Pheeroan akLaff: drums

 

 

 

Wadada Leo Smith’s Silence: 
Silence
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
David Leikam: Moog synthesizer 
Anthony Davis: piano

 

 

RedKoral Quartet: 
Pacifica, String Quartet No. 12B   
RedKoral Quartet:
Shalini Vijayan: violin
Mona Tian: violin
Andrew McIntosh: viola
Ashley Walters: cello
+
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Hardedge: soundesign

BREAK

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quintet:
America’s National Parks   
(New Orleans The National Culture Park USA 1718; 
Eileen Jackson Southern, 1920-2002 A Literary National Park; Yellowstone The First National Park and the Spirit of America – The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872)

Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Anthony Davis: piano
Ashley Walters: cello
John Lindberg: bass
Pheeroan akLaff: drums
+
Jesse Gilbert – video artist

Saturday, December 16: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Workshop for Musicians: Ankhrasmation Symbolic Language Scores

8:00 p.m.

Wadada Leo Smith’s Earth: 
Earth
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Motoko Honda: piano
Soo Yeon Lyuh: haegeum 
William Winant: percussion

  

ROVA: 
Saxophone Quartet No. 1 
Ma’d-Din, in memory of Sufi Master, Cerno Bokar Saalif Taal
Bruce Ackley: soprano & tenor saxophones
Larry Ochs: tenor & sopranino saxophones
Jon Raskin: baritone, alto & sopranino saxophones
Steve Adams: alto & sopranino saxophones

Wadada Leo Smith’s Pacifica:
Koral Reef
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Henry Kaiser: guitar
John Lindberg: bass

BREAK

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quintet: 
America’s National Parks 
(The Mississippi River Dark and Deep Dreams Flow the River – a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC; Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks The Giant Forest, Great Canyon, Cliffs, Peaks, Waterfalls and Cave Systems 1890; Yosemite The Glaciers, the Falls, the Wells and the Valley of Goodwill 1890)

Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Anthony Davis: piano
Ashley Walters: cello
John Lindberg: bass
Pheeroan akLaff: drums
+
Jesse Gilbert – video artist


CREATE Festival is made possible with generous support from the Doris Duke Foundation in partnership with Creative Capital. Smith received a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2016.


© Michael Jackson

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