Thurs, Oct 14: World premiere – Wadada Leo Smith’s “Mercy” – streaming concert via Harvard with Vijay Iyer and Andrew Cyrille

Iconic composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith delivers Harvard University’s Louis C. Elson Lecture

“A Dialogue: Creativity and Mercy with a Reflection on the Role of the Artist in Today’s World” features the world premiere of Smith’s “Mercy”

and a conversation with Vijay Iyer

© Dominik Huber

Groundbreaking composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith celebrate his 80th birthday with a year of special events includingA Dialogue: Creativity and Mercy with a Reflection on the Role of the Artist in Today’s World,” Harvard University’s Louis C. Elson Lecture delivered virtually at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 14.

The event features the world premiere of Smith’s new work “Mercy,” composed in honor of essential hospital workers and performed by Smith, Vijay Iyer, and Andrew Cyrille. Smith and Iyer will also participate in a virtual conversation followed by a Q&A session. Free and open to the public. To register, visit https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aocX9uKMSNyfhbLIA3F4hA.

Smith’s year-long celebration of his 80th birthday includes the release of six major projects comprising 22 CDs on TUM Records, two world premieres, inclusion in a film and concerts, and numerous residencies culminating in an 80th birthday celebration concert to be broadcast on his birthday, December 18, 2021.

2021-22 TUM Recordings

• May 21, 2021 – Sacred Ceremonies, a 3-CD box set featuring Wadada with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell in duets and a trio.

• May 21, 2021 – Trumpet, a 3-CD box set featuring 14 new compositions for solo trumpet.

• November 19, 2021 – Wadada Leo Smith’s Great Lakes Quartet: The Chicago Symphonies   
Box set with 4 CDs.  Smith on trumpet, Henry Threadgill and Jonathon Haffner on saxophones, John Lindberg on double bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

• November 19, 2021 Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer, and Jack DeJohnette: A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday  
This brings the three artists together for the first time in this meeting of creative giants.

• February 18, 2022 – Wadada Leo Smith: String Quartets No. 1 – 12 
Box set with 7 CDs featuring RedKoral Quartet plus featured soloists including Smith, Anthony Davis, Alison Bjorkedal, Thomas Buckner, and more.

• February 18, 2022 – Wadada Leo Smith: Emerald Duets 
Box set with 4 CDs, one each with Pheeroan akLaff, Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille and Jack DeJohnette.  This set adds to Smith’s long history of duo recordings with some of the greatest drummers in the history of creative music.

About Wadada Leo Smith 
Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.”

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work.  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.” In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion.

Smith regularly earns multiple spots on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. In 2017 he topped three categories: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year, and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he has earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes Critics Poll as Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.

In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.

Born December 18, 1941, in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo, and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural, and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His most recent recording is 2019’s Rosa Parks: Pure Love, an Oratorio of Seven Songs. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music, and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”  Writing about Smith’s 2017 album Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk in the New York Review of Books, Adam Shatz notes: “For all the minimalism of his sound, Smith has turned out to be a maximalist in his ambitions, evolving into one of our most powerful storytellers, an heir to American chroniclers like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman.”

© 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

 

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