This is the second time that I’ve had the chance to talk to Wadada Leo Smith. A trumpeter and composer, an early member of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and a distinctive and powerful voice in jazz and creative music for over 50 years.
Although his music is often described as Avant Garde it is rooted in the blues and has soul or as he would probably say it comes from the soul. He talks about his new album America’s National Parks not necessarily as the physical National Parks but as cultural and natural resources to be preserved and renew the nation. We also talked about his creativity, how he works and his upcoming projects.
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.