Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012). I try not to be a music review bloveator as all that language is really for the labels and the music marketers. The scope of this massive 4 cd work (I’m streaming it on MOG) is so far reaching it would take forever to try to get down with each piece and tie it to the title and the overall work.
It’s important to remember that this is an expansive piece of music centered around African-American history but also the American experience. With titles like ‘Malik Al Shabazz and the People of the Shahada’, ‘Buzzsaw: The Myth of a Free Press’ and ‘Democracy’ this music operates at a meta level.
As for the music itself, the closest point of reference would be Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain with politics. The production is cool in temperature, the music is a combination of classical orchestration and improvisation, and the tone is somber and slow moving.
Trumper player Wadada Leo Smith deserves respect not just the music he created but the boldness in envisioning a piece of music so epic in scope.