2017 Jazz Album of the Year: America's National Parks by Wadada Leo Smith

From a media release:

DownBeat Magazine's 2017 Jazz Album of the Year
America's National Parks by Wadada Leo Smith

Buy the CD

DownBeat Magazine's 65th Annual Critics Poll honors Wadada Leo Smith's America's National Parks, released on Cuneiform Records, with its 2017 Jazz Album of the Year Award. The DownBeat Critics Poll Awards, one of the jazz world's most prestigious honors, also recognized Smith with its 2017 Musician of the Year Award and its Trumpeter of the Year Award. Earlier this summer, Smith was named 2017 Jazz Artist of the Year by the Jazz Journalist Association. Without question, 2017 is The Year of Wadada Leo Smith.

"Mr. Smith, a trumpeter of fiery purpose and intrepid imagination" -New York Times

In October 2016, while America celebrated the Centennial of America's National Park Service and prepared for its 45th presidential election, the visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith released an extraordinary double-disc album on Cuneiform Records. Named after and in tribute to America’s National Parks, it was a six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes. Smith recorded the album with his longstanding Golden Quintet: Anthony Davis (piano), Ashley Walters (cello), John Lindberg (bass). Pheeroan akLaff (drums) and Jesse Gilbert (video artist).

The two-disc set featured six Smith compositions that celebrated America's most iconic national splendors and proposed new monuments to America's shared experience. Among the tracks celebrating national parks was one titled "Yellowstone: The First National Park and the Spirit of America – The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872", which honored the first National Park in America and in the world, created before the founding of the National Park Service.

Talking about his America's National Parks, Smith noted:  "My focus is on the... idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens: those who have passed on before, those who are here in the present, and those who will come in the future. The...collective notion about common property, inheritance, longevity, transformation, and sustaining beauty down the line...”

Cuneiform Records -  the same label that released Smith's monumental, 4-disc tribute to the American Civil Rights movement, Ten Freedom Summers, a finalist for 2013's Pulitzer Prize - released America's National Parks worldwide on October 14th, 2016. Cuneiform announced America's National Parks release in a special "The Word is Out" eblast.
From the moment of its release, America's National Parks steadily accrued acclaim from jazz and creative music critics and fans worldwide. DownBeat Magazine featured Smith on its November cover, calling him a "National Treasure."

"Smith is a true master, and America's National Parks is one of his most visionary works" -The Quietus
As word about America's National Parks spread worldwide, the album received countless positive reviews in magazines, newspapers and webzines, and new reviews continue to emerge. Released in Fall 2016, it also appeared on dozens of high-profile Best of Year lists for 2016, including:

#1 Best Jazz Album of 2016 by The Quietus
#1 on Dusted's Best of 2016
#2 on NPR Jazz Critics' Poll
#6 on Slates' Best Jazz Albums of 2016

The New York Time's Best Albums of 2016
#1 on El Intruso's Ninth Annual International Critics Poll
#1 Jazz CD by The Wire,
and many others

Now, in Summer 2017, America's National Parks has received one of the jazz world's most coveted prizes: named #1 Jazz Album of the Year by DownBeat Magazine's 65th Annual Critics Poll.

"New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718 [Excerpt]":