Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith creates a new masterwork inspired by the country's most stunning landscapes
National Parks (Cuneiform Records - October 14, 2016)
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"New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718" is the opening track of visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's latest epic collection, the new two-CD America's National Parks out October 14 on Cuneiform Records. Inspired by the country's most stunning landscapes, America's National Parks features Smith's newly expanded Golden Quintet featuring pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff and cellist Ashley Walters.
|Wadada Leo Smith by Scott Groller|
The other three pieces are based on more conventionally recognized national parks: Yellowstone, which became the first place in the world so designated in 1872; Sequoia & Kings Canyon, whose trees Smith marvels at as some of the largest and oldest living things on the planet; and Yosemite, which contains striking glaciers and some of the deepest lakes in the world.
Smith crafts six extended works that explore, confront and question the preserved natural resources that are considered the most hallowed ground in the U.S. - and some that should be. "New Orleans: The National Culture Park" argues that the entire Crescent City deserves to be recognized for its influential contributions to American history and culture.
His 28-page score for America's National Parks was penned for his Golden Quintet, a fresh reconfiguration of the quartet that's been a keystone of his expression for the last 16 years. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff are joined by cellist Ashley Walters, affording the composer and bandleader new melodic and coloristic possibilities. "The cello as a lead voice with the trumpet is magnificent," Smith says, "but when you look at the possibilities for melodic formation with the trumpet, the cello, the piano and the bass, that's paradise for a composer and for a performer. My intent was to prolong or enhance the vitality of the ensemble to live longer."
|Wadada Leo Smith|
America's National Parks will be released shortly before Smith's 75th birthday in December. It arrives, coincidentally, in the midst of celebrations for the centennial of the National Park Service, which was created by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916.