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Album Review

Tao-Njia is a good album that's interesting, if not very active. Wadada Leo Smith's group Nda-Kulture performs the opening piece, "Another Wave More Waves," on an unusual instrumentation that works wonderfully: Smith switches between trumpet and flugelhorn while David Philipson plays two low drums and a frame drum, and Mika Noda performs on vibraphone, timpani, and tubular bells. The second piece, "Double Thunderbolt," is a composition in six parts composed as a memorial for Don Cherry. It begins with Smith playing bamboo flute, adding a Far Eastern meditative quality. A variety of Eastern bells and other instruments are rung as Harumi Makino Smith reads her poetry for two of the sections, followed each time by Smith soloing on trumpet. The final piece, and title track, is performed by the California EAR Unit and guests. Incorporating personal philosophy and beliefs into his compositions through mood and accompanying texts, Smith creates a warm album of spiritual instrumental music.


Born: 18 December 1941 in Leland, MS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A consistently adventurous trumpeter who has stuck to playing avant-garde jazz and classical music throughout his career, Leo Smith's dry, introverted style (which makes extensive use of space) is a strong contrast to the more jubilant flights of Lester Bowie. Smith originally played drums, mellophone, and French horn before settling on trumpet. He has also created a systemic musical language he calls Ankhrasmation, which has proved to be significant in his development as an artist and as an educator....
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Tao-Njia, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith
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