Wadada Leo Smith is releasing Ten Freedom Summers, a 21 part work based on the American civil rights movement. The work centres around the ten years between the US Supreme Court's 1954 decision to end segregation in schools and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and is formed of three 'collections': Defining Moments In America, What Is Democracy?, and Ten Freedom Summers.
The work is partly inspired by August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle of ten plays. "I own all ten of Wilson’s plays and have studied them over the years,” says Smith. “Much like Wilson, what I’m trying to do is give a full impression, show the psychological transformation that America achieved. Each piece has its own motivation, and what ties it together is the psychological thread."
Ten Freedom Summers will be released as a 4CD set this spring via Cuneiform, and was premiered across three nights in October last year at Los Angeles REDCAT (although the CD release is not a recording of the premiere). It will be performed again on 19 May at the Festival International de Musique Actualle de Victoriaville in Quebec. Watch a video of Wadada Leo Smith introducing the work below, and read more here.