Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wadada Leo Smith & Louis Moholo-Moholo Ancestors TUM 2012

Ancestors is due to hit the streets on October 14, 2012. In the day of the digital download, pre-ordering and in some cases direct buys from the artist or label street dates mean little where as this release means a great deal.

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo join forces for what may well be the first collaborative effort between two masters. One master a leading proponent of creative improvised music in America and the other following suite as a representative of this music in Africa. While both have shared a stage off and on since the 1970's this is their first recording together.

Smith has tremendous respect for Moholo-Moholo as Louis has to a degree revolutionized a drumming language or voice all his own. This unique percussive voice does not transfer African drumming onto the drum set but, rather he has mastered his own tradition previously non-existent thereby creating a unique voice of spatial quality rarely applied in any percussive form by utilizing a series of sonic accents, silent space, and multi-rhythmically drum rolls centered within micro-sonic fields. Sounds easy huh? That explanation is for the rhythmic gear head. For a horn player like myself, the man doesn't own the pocket he is the pocket!

Wadada Leo Smith is one of those handful of legitimate jazz triple threats. Smith is a talented instrumentalist, prolific composer and has the chops to improvise on the fly with anyone. One of Smith's first bands was with Anthony Braxton but since then Smith is seemingly content working on his own projects.

"Moholo-Moholo/Golden Spirit" opens this release which is more than a release but a cultural phenomenon of musical enlightenment. The muted trumpet of Smith gives an all most introspective Miles Davis approach while remaining melodically accessible to the passive listener. Moholo-Moholo is controlled sonic fury. A master class for lyrical drummers moving from subtle nuance to rolling thunder in the same fashion as a high performance roadster goes from 0-60 in a matter of seconds. "Jackson Pollock-Action" is a mind bending experience in the art of creation. Pollack painted in the present moment, no preconceived ideas. In the same vein as Pollack there is a thematic free flow of ideas created from both the visceral and cerebral. Music in the moment. The rhythm of life. There is a distinct parallel in the creative flow of Pollock and the improvisational attack with which Smith and Moholo-Moholo approach this work. The creative boundaries associated with the more traditional form and functionality of western improvised music are carefully laid to the side along with the self imposed limitations of genre and sonic expectations. Be the ball.

Closing out this most adventurous of works is "Ancestors" which is a spontaneous free form improvisation based on a five part structure. In the spirit of all great jazz masters we find phrases and homage paid through them to artists such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey.

Avaunt-Gard or Free Jazz or even Experimental are labels that in all likely hood mean little to these two gentleman. Critics came up with labels such as "free jazz" primarily due to a lack of their own musical education and subsequent knowledge. These labels however stuck and became industry standard as a means of categorizing what they considered to be "their" product. When you hear artists such as Wadada Leo Smith and Louis Moholo-Moholo you know immediately the same "tune" is probably never played the same way twice. You also realize it will always be "their" music, they are simply kind enough to share their gift with us.

Tracks: Moholo-Moholo/Golden Spirit; No Name In The Street, James Baldwin; Jackson Pollock-Action; Siholaro; Ancestors.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet and percussion; Louis Moholo-Moholo: drums, percussion and voice.

Cover Art: Marianna Uutinen