Intimacy and intricacy are the best ways to describe two recent collaborations from Wadada Leo Smith this year. The first, with Tumo Orchestra and then in a duo session with pianist Anglecia Sanchez.
Occupy The World is another epic orchestral work with lots of improvisation and intense mood setting movements. Inspired by the global Occupy movement from the past few years, this session is not as enveloping as last years Ten Freedom Summers but it is just as broad in scope.
“Queen Hatshepsut” inspired by the Egyptian queen of the same name, is a piece flows up and down with rough chords from both Smith, the string section and Kantonen’s fierce and sublime piano performance. The title track has various stages of deep reflection, as in the middle sections filled with atmospherics and free float trumpet lines.
In a similar inspirational voyage, Smith explores more intimacy with Angelica Sanchez on Twine Forest. The two have worked together for years, Sanchez is part of Smith’s Golden Quartet and Organic group. Surprising that this is their first outing as a duo. Either way, it’s bright, personal and highly captivating.
“Retinal Sand” sees Sanchez experimenting with the insides of the piano strings and Smith swirling with haunting accuracy. In addition to explosive outburst that blend seamlessly with the rolling and very punctuated notes from Sanchez. “In The Falls Of” while being improvised shapes itself into a lovely almost romantic ballad. The notes are soft with a melody and sparseness that stretches the piece and the imagination making for a devotional experience.
Two excellent sessions featuring similar deep, inspiring thoughts but with very clear distinction and execution. Wadada Leo Smith makes clear that with Occupy The World and Twine Forest, he is one of the most creative and prolific composers among his elder statesman colleagues on the scene today.