Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers suite: THE No.1 Gig Of The London Jazz Festival

Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers suite: THE No.1 Gig Of The London Jazz Festival

Cafe Oto is proud to present the European premiere of legendary trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith’s phenomenal large-scale masterwork – the complete ‘Ten Freedom Summers’ suite. More than seven hours of music spread over three unmissable nights, performed by Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet, the Ligeti Quartet and video projectionist Jesse Gilbert.

Already available on CD from Cunieform Records trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith’s ‘Ten Freedom Summers’ is the work of a lifetime. He is one of jazz’s true visionaries, and this kaleidoscopic, spiritually charged collection of 19 compositions is 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.

Recorded shortly after the music’s October 2011 world premiere in Los Angeles, the 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.

Wadada Leo Smith by Scott Groller

Wadada Leo Smith by Scott Groller

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.

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.

I discovered the music of Wadada Leo Smith through Valerie Wilmer’s seminal book As Serious As Your Life and after decades of being revered by his peers and colleagues, he is now attaining his rightful place at the forefront of American music. ‘Ten Freedom Summers’ is an important work that combines unique, fully scored rigorous passages and great improvisational skills into one huge and cohesive whole. It is a thrilling, emotionally charged and satisfying work from a master.


THU 21 NOVEMBER ’13 • 8PM • £18 adv / £22 door / £50 three-day pass
First Collection: Defining Moments In America

FRI 22 NOVEMBER ’13 • 8PM • £18 adv / £22 door / £50 three-day pass
Second Collection: What Is Democracy?

SAT 23 NOVEMBER ’13 • 8PM • £18 adv / £22 door / £50 three-day pass
Third Collection: Ten Freedom Summers

VENUE: Cafe OTO Cafe OTO. 18-22 Ashwin Street. Dalston, London. E8 3DL – http://www.cafeoto.co.uk/‎

“Hope, anger, abstraction and grand aesthetic ambition come to bear in Smith’s inspirational work, bolstered by the charge of the new.” – Josef Woodard, LA Times

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

“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.” Larry Blumenfeld: Wall Street Journal – After attending the premiere:

You can buy a copy of Wadada Leo Smith’s ‘Ten Freedom Summers’ (Cuneiform Records) @
BANDCAMP – cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album

Please note: This story is an edit of various excellent press pieces on Wadada and this project.

About Paul Brad

Freelance journalist / Publisher / Editor - Straight No Chaser magazine / Editor - L FM : Broadcasting In A Pandemic - Gilles Peterson (Worldwide FM) / Publisher: From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: A History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene by Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove / Music Fan: Interplanetary Sounds: Ancient to Future / Cultural Event Consultant & Activist / Nei Jia practitioner
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1 Response to Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers suite: THE No.1 Gig Of The London Jazz Festival

  1. Jason Caffrey says:

    Reblogged this on the Thump.

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