Waddada Leo Smith

The Great Lakes Suites

Waddada Leo SmithThe Great Lakes Suites
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Take four of the foremost jazz improvisers. Give them six panoramic pieces by a creative composer who was inspired by massive geographic sites. Then put them in a great recording studio. What do you think would happen? Well, it did.

Trumpeter/composer Waddada Leo Smith brought together super drummer Jack DeJohnette with iconoclastic reed player Henry Threadgill and maestro bassist John Lindberg for this 2-CD profusion of musical ingenuity. Smith's compositions are stately, spare and generally sombre — not much "happy" in the trumpeter's lake life. "Lake Huron" begins with a simple trumpet intro that yields a unison horn melody statement. Threadgill's knotted figurations are energized by unpredictable silences, then thrusts. DeJohnette is unfailingly interactive, supportive and goading, and the drummer is always completely present in his responses to his band mates, never just pro forma. Even more dolorous, "Lake Erie" opens with plaintive bass flute into a mournful theme and intense, keening trumpet solo. There is an overall sameness of compositional strategy and mood, but the playing is compelling. These suites require attentive listening. (TUM)
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