Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
on December 29, 2012
Ten Freedom Summers is a collection of compositions mixing chamber orchestration provided by the ten-member Southwest Chamber Music ensemble and the cerebral avant-garde jazz we normally associate with WL Smith, provided by the familiar Golden Quartet. The tracks average about twelve minutes in length and range from five to over twenty minutes, spanning four discs.
This is the culmination of decades of work and is not simply an appendix to his more well-known works; the nineteen compositions here might be some of the most patiently and intricately-crafted of his career (or anybody's career), and I don't say 'patient' or 'intricate' lightly. In fact, in the few months I've been listening, I've yet to come close to wrapping my head around it because there's just so much happening within every track. The way it blends the now-well-known avant-garde jazz traditions with what is considered 'classical music' distances the album considerably from any familiar genre, although the jazzier sections owe a lot to Miles Davis's atmospheric style (In A Silent Way, Bitch's Brew).
Unlike most of jazz, the compositions here are more theatrical; enjoying them almost requires that you sit still and listen. It's therefore not easy to put it on a 'best-of-2012' list alongside names like Vijay Iyer. Despite its low-key release (like most of WL Smith's) and the fact that it was recorded in less time than the average lo-fi punk album (live, in 3 sessions), this could very well someday qualify as one of the most important recordings in modern music. If you're on the ropes about buying this, I don't think you'll be disappointed.