In 2012 Wadada Leo Smith was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his epic work on civil rights Ten Freedom Summers that filled 4 compact discs. Although also known for free improvisation he has often worked recently in sprawling thematic pieces. His most recent the Great Lakes Suite pays homage to those bodies of water.
We talked about his work in progress and his methods of composing, his time spent in Connecticut in the 1970s and the Creative Music and Improvisors Forum. Working on Red Hill with Joe Morris and Jamie Saft, the Yo Miles project and of course the Great Lakes Suite.
This interview was recorded in December 2014 and parts of it were broadcast on WRIU at that time.
While cleaning out some boxes the other day I came upon an old Hartford Advocate from April 12, 1978. The Jazz, Rock and Pop listings made me wish I could go back in time and catch some of these shows John Zorn and Eugene Chadbourn, Phil Woods, Al DiMeola, Oliver Lake, And Lee Konitz. Unfortunately I had never heard of any of these people in April 1978.
I posted the clipping of Tower of Power mostly because of the Logo art for Jim Koplik and Shelly Finkel. I also included the listing below Lee Konitz because of Fountain Head (sic) and Firefox. Of course the Shaboo ad has Rhode Island’s own Roomful of Blues no doubt still with Duke Robillard on guitar at that time and Connecticut’s Eight to the Bar who also still perform.
One of the things that I do at Jazz New England is to try to dig up some of the regional jazz lore. I grew up in Connecticut and came of age in the mid to late 1970s. I came to love jazz in a large part because there was so much jazz in Hartford, often for free. That and the fact that as WPLR and WHCN turned from early freeform FM to more commercial Album Oriented Rock I listened more and more to WWUH that played Jazz, Fusion and Progressive rock. Even before I was old enough to go to clubs there were the Peace Train and Monday Night Jazz concerts in Bushnell park and the events at Real Art Ways that all featured world class and cutting edge performers.
I’m a Rhode Islander now and Rhode Island has it’s own jazz culture and history which is suprisingly different from it’s neighbor. In the future I’ll explore it’s idiosyncrasies. Eventually I’d like to include all of New England but for now I’m going to go with what I know.
Mario Pavone had a three day residency at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Brooklyn. On three consecutive nights he celebrated his 50 year history in jazz. When he started playing bass with Paul Bley in 1964 he only had two years on the instrument. He also played with Bill Dixon and was a member of the Thomas Chapin Trio for ten years until Chapin’s early death from leukemia in 1998.
He has been a leader of his own groups since the early 1980s and was the founder of Alacra Records. He has also been on the board of directors of the Litchfield Jazz Festival since it’s inception and has dedicated his a part of his summer to teaching at the Litchfield Jazz Camp for the last eighteen years.
This interview was recorded on July 23, 2014. We talked about his new album Street Songs, his ties to Connecticut, teaching at the jazz camp, Alacra records and how he writes and arranges music.
He will be performing an expanded version of Street Songs with an added brass quartet at the Litchfield Jazz Festival on Sunday August 10th.