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Wadada's previous two albums on Cuneiform have been extremely strong sellers and have received huge critical acclaim and strong radio play. In 2010, Wadada Leo Smith was featured on the cover of the very widely read English magazine The Wire and the US publication Jazziz! The very beautiful artwork featured in the package is actually Wadada's musical scores that were used for the album!
Wadada Leo Smith's large ensemble Organic made their first appearance on the second disc of his 2009 double CD, Spiritual Dimensions; this, though, is the group's first set of studio recordings. In the late '90s and early 2000s, Smith co-led the band Yo Miles! with guitarist Henry Kaiser, reinterpreting (and later writing original music inspired by) the 1970s work of Miles Davis' guitar-heavy electric funk bands. Organic's music is superficially similar to that band's, but with a much greater degree of abstraction (in addition to Smith's trumpet, two saxophones, and up to four electric guitarists, the ensemble features one upright and one electric bassist, a violinist, and two members performing on laptops) and a generally more meditative feel that's likely rooted in the leader's deep and constant spiritual questing. Tracks carry dedications to Don Cherry and Smith's AACM peer, violinist Leroy Jenkins, as well as Toni Morrison and Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, the founder of the Shadhili order of Sufi Muslims who died in 1258. So while the opening "Don Cherry's Electric Sonic Garden" is a 20-minute funk jam, the two-part "The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts" feels more like Davis' "He Loved Him Madly" crossed with John Coltrane's "Love Consequences Serenity" from Meditations. The balance between groove and gentle exploration is retained throughout both discs of this nearly two-hour set, and while listening to it as a marathon session may be challenging, there's not a moment here that feels ill-conceived or superfluous. This is a masterwork by one of the great heroes of American avant-garde jazz. -- Phil Freeman - All Music Guide
1. Don Cherry's Electric Sonic Garden (for Don Cherry)
2. The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts, part one
3. The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts, part two
4. The Majestic Way
5. The Shaykh, as far as Humaythira
6. Spiritual Wayfarers
8. Ritual Purity and Love, part one
9. Ritual Purity and Love, part two
2. The Well: From Bitter To Fresh Sweet Water, part one
3. The Well: From Bitter To Fresh Sweet Water, part two
4. Toni Morrison: The Black Hole (Sagittarius A*), Conscience and Epic Memory (for Toni Morrison)
5. Leroy Jenkins's Air Steps (for Leroy Jenkins)
Top Customer Reviews
By Jazz Fan on June 8, 2011
Format: Audio CDComment Sending feedback...
Cuneiform Records have wisely made an investment in trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith: When it comes to Smith, fans have long known him to possess some invaluable qualities, qualities that guarantee him to be an artist of a very high order - vision, authenticity and effectiveness. Ever since the beginning of Smith's career, he has always followed his own singular ambitious path. Smith's newest offering, Heart's Reflections, with his group Organic is no different. Here he leads the group through nearly two hours of music-making on this double CD, producing what sounds like a late career masterpiece. Miles' electric period is an obvious precedent, but certainly the music herein is hardly a carbon copy of the then-revolutionary amalgamation of jazz, rock and funk of the early seventies. In addition to Smith's trumpet, the unusual instrumentation consists of four guitarists(!), two saxophonists, a violinist, two bassists (one electric, one acoustic), two laptop essayists, along with the more conventional rhythm section of drums and piano. Each of the musicians get plenty of room to stretch out, adding to this outstanding work. Heart's Reflections is a highlight of Smith's long career, a prime contender of 2011's 'best of,' and also likely to be another hugely popular release on Cuneiform. 4.5 stars.
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