America's National Parks
America's National Parks
- Audio CD (October 14, 2016)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: CUNEIFORM
Editorial Reviews Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet, director of the ensemble Anthony Davis - piano Ashley Walters - cello John Lindberg - bass Pheeroan akLaff - drums With America's National Parks, visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada LeoSmith offers his latest epic collection, a six-movement suite inspired by thescenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country'spublic landscapes. Writing for his newly expanded Golden Quintet, Smith craftssix extended works that explore, confront and question the preserved naturalresources that are considered the most hallowed ground in the U.S. - and somethat should be. America's National Parks was released shortly before Smith's 75th birthday inDecember, arriving, coincidentally, in the midst of celebrations for thecentennial of the National Park Service, which was created by an act ofCongress on August 25, 1916. The spark for the project, however, came from twoplaces: Smith's own research into the National Park system, beginning withYellowstone, the world's first national park; and Ken Burns' 12-hourdocumentary series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. ''The idea that Ken Burns explored in that documentary was that the grandeurof nature was like a religion or a cathedral,'' Smith says. ''I reject thatimage because the natural phenomenon in creation, just like man and stars andlight and water, is all one thing, just a diffusion of energy. My focus is onthe spiritual and psychological dimensions of the idea of setting asidereserves for common property of the American citizens.'' His 28-page score for America's National Parks was penned for his GoldenQuintet, a fresh reconfiguration of the quartet that's been a keystone of hisexpression for the last 16 years. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindbergand drummer Pheeroan akLaff are joined by cellist Ashley Walters, affordingthe composer and bandleader new melodic and coloristic possibilities. ''Thecello as a lead voice with the trumpet is magnificent,'' Smith says, ''butwhen you look at the possibilities for melodic formation with the trumpet, thecello, the piano and the bass, that's paradise for a composer and for aperformer.'' While these preserved landscapes offer the inspiration of powerful naturalbeauty, Smith's always open-minded view of the world leads him to find thatsame inspiration wherever he is. ''Every concrete house is from nature,'' hesays. ''Every plastic airplane that flies 300 people across the ocean comesout of nature. Every air conditioner conditions a natural piece of air. Ithink that the human being is constantly enfolded in organic nature andconstructed nature, so I'm constantly inspired, inside the house or outsidethe house.'' Review Smith uses his magisterial instrumental voice, his inspirational leadershipand his command of classical, jazz and blues forms to remind us of what hasgone down and what's still happening. --DownBeat's 80 Coolest Things in JazzToday A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight. --Nate Chinen, The New YorkTimes
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