Wadada Leo Smith's Organic

Heart's Reflections

BY Glen HallPublished Apr 15, 2011

Trumpeter Smith wears his love for Miles Davis on his sleeve. And the vibe of Heart's Reflections echoes Electric-era Miles, with wah-wah, electric trumpet, yowling guitars, rock-solid drumming and jangling electric piano. But where Miles' music exuded sexuality, most of Smith's two-CD set is ostensibly dedicated to Sufi saint Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili. Some moments do have a decidedly spiritual feel, such as "Spiritual Wayfarers," with eloquent trumpet over rubato acoustic piano/bass/guitar. Given the dedicatee, you might expect new age ethereality, but at its core, this document is muscular and decidedly physical. Witness Smith's strident blasts and guitarists Brandon Ross and Michael Gregory's glorious wailing on "Certainty," a powerhouse piece. There are moments of stateliness too, as on "Ritual Purity and Love, Part 1," which also includes intriguing laptop work by Mark Trayle and Charlie Burgin. Even with a heavy-on-electronics, 14-piece group, Smith's music is consistently focused and expressive.

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