Wadada Leo Smith
With his dry tone, extended use of silence and abrupt smears of color, Smith is cast from a different model than most trumpet players. The brass instrument has long been seen as a vehicle for many flashy players as well as subtle coaxers of tone. It would seem then that Smith’s personal and inimitable world of sound stands in firm contrast to the history of the instrument, while his writing embraces the roots, philosophy, and history of many of the music’s poll bearers. Born December 18, 1941 in Leland MS, Smith was exposed to the blues early on. The improvisational traditions of the Delta blues survive today intact in his music. He has studied in various programs; the U.S. Military band, Sherwood School of Music, and at Wesleyan University. He is a member of the AACM and was one of it’s first to bring its concepts overseas.
Expanding on the ideas of Don Cherry, Smith has incorporated musical influences from around the world into his work. He has formed and written for various ensembles, including New Dalta Ahkri, N’Da Kulture, the Golden Quartet, and the Reflecativity trio. The music that he has created for these groups, which derives from his personal system of music and notation called Ankhrasmation, is as individual as his sound on the trumpet. In 1973 his book of musical philosophy, Notes (8 Pieces) Source a New World Music: Creative Music, was published by Kiom Press. In the time since he has taught at the University of New Haven 1975-76, the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY 1975-78, and Bard College 1987-93. He has held the Dizzy Gillespie Chair at the California Institute of the Arts since 1993.