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Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Today Monday January 20

Afternoon

Jazz

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.

Evening

?????

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CD Reviews: Wadada Leo Smith - Najwa & Solo Reflections and Meditations on Monk

(Review by Steve H)
Wadada Leo Smith has been a veteran of the free jazz scene since the 60’s working in various configurations from solo performances upwards. These two albums reflect his flexibility perfectly one being an ensemble piece the other a solo album.
Najwa
Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Michael Gregory Jackson: guitars; Henry Kaiser: guitars; Brandon Ross: guitars; Lamar Smith: guitars; Bill Laswell: electric bass; Pheeroan akLaff: drums; Adam Rudolph: percussion.
This album reminded me a lot of the Miles Davis electronic era featuring up to 4 guitars and with a very forceful bass and percussion undercurrent backing the lead instruments. Apart from the title track  (Najwa)  the pieces are all inspired/dedicated to the giants of modern jazz. 
The first and longest track on the album Ornette Coleman's Harmolodic Sonic Hierographic Forms: A Resonance Change In The Millennium starts off with heavy guitar riffs and some powerful rhythms before it morphs into a more ambient phase with Smith soloing as single guitar notes punctuate the mellow ending. 

Ohnedaruth John Coltrane: The Master Of Kosmic Music And His Spirituality In A Love Supreme starts off in a heavy rock type fashion with the bass of Laswell clearly in evidence. The mood then changes as a more funky groove takes over. 

The title and shortest track on the album Najwa references a love lost and features a piercing trumpet solo over some haunting backing. 

Ronald Shannon Jackson: The Master Of Symphonic Drumming And Multisonic Rhythms, Inscriptions Of Rare Beauty is dedicated to the late drummer who was a member of  Smith’s ‘Golden Quartet'. After a somewhat cinematic start, the music really cranks up with a tremendous soaring trumpet solo meanwhile the accompanying percussion and bass are simply outstanding. 

The final track on the album is dedicated to Billie Holiday an artist that Smith has dedicated more tunes to than anybody else The Empress, Lady Day: In A Rainbow Garden, With Yellow-Gold Hot Springs, Surrounded By Exotic Plants And Flowers is a fitting tribute to the great lady. It is a slow-moving, meditative ethereal piece quite beautiful in parts and leaves one with a very warm feeling. Despite the rather complex titles, this is a really enjoyable album and I recommend it to anyone with an appreciation of the not so narrow straight-ahead jazz scene.

Solo Reflections and Meditations on Monk

Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet
Wadada Leo Smith has a greater affinity with Thelonious Monk than any other musician. One of the things he greatly admired about Monk was his penchant for taking time out of performing to research and explore the music something that Smith as an academic and educator also does. This album comprises of 8 pieces half of which are original Monk tunes (Ruby My Dear, Reflections, Crepuscule with Nellie and  ‘Round Midnight) the other half being composed by Smith inspired by the legendary pianist. 
As with the  Najwa album the Smith tunes all have wonderfully detailed titles such as  Monk and His Five Point Ring at the Five Spot Café  and  my own favorite   Monk and Bud Powell at Shea Stadium - A Mystery. will there one day there be a song called Edis and Graham Hardy at St. James Park – A Possibility?  There is something about the pureness of a solo trumpet as it pierces the air that is quite captivating and listening to an entire CD of just solo trumpet I found a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I have heard more versions of ‘Round Midnight than almost any other song but the rendition that closes this album has to be one of the best, breathing new life into the classic standard. A wonderful end to a wonderful album.

Both albums come beautifully packaged with a booklet with detailed notes about the players and the pieces there is even a page about the artworks that adorn the sleeves of the CD case.  
Steve H.

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