Listen: Wadada Leo Smith's Red Hill album

September 2014

Stream the entirety of Wadada Leo Smith, Joe Morris, Jamie Saft and Balazs Pandi's Red Hill album.

Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith has spent over four decades playing solo, in jazz quartets, with string ensembles, laptop improvisors and more. Born Leo Smith in Mississippi in 1941, during the mid-80s he converted to Rastafarianism and took the name Wadada, ‘love’ in Ethiopia's Amharic language (he's more recently converted to Islam, adding the name Ishmael).

Along with Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins and other members of Chicago's AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), Smith helped shift the locus of American free playing from the spiritually ecstatic work of people like Albert Ayler, John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, towards a focus on overtly intellectual explorations of music as language and system. Between 1967 and the early 1970s, he appeared on many important recordings, including three of Braxton’s earliest albums (3 Compositions Of New Jazz, a self-titled BYG release and This Time), as well as Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre’s Humility In The Light Of The Creator and Marion Brown’s Geechee Recollections. Since then, Smith has collaborated with numerous musicians including Henry Threadgill, John Zorn, Spring Heel Jack and many others. He was featured on the cover of The Wire 312, and interviewed for our Oral Histories series here.

Red Hill was recorded at Jamie Saft's recording studio, Potterville International Sound on 5 December 2013 and features Wadada on trumpet, Joe Morris on bass, Balazs Pandi on drums and Saft on piano and keyboard.

Red Hill is out 23 September on RareNoise Records

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Oral Histories: Wadada Leo Smith

Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith traces the development of his Ankhrasmastion language, from the first time he picked up a trumpet age 12, through to the present day.