Wadada Leo Smith to Release 4-CD Civil Rights Opus

‘Ten Freedom Summers’ was written over a 34-year period

Wadada Leo Smith, photo copyright Lyn Horton image 0
Lyn Horton

Wadada Leo Smith, photo copyright Lyn Horton

Trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith will release a four-CD set, Ten Freedom Summers, on Cuneiform Records May 22. The music is described as a “Civil Rights opus” and the 70-year-old Smith says it is “one of my life’s defining works.” The 19 pieces were recorded shortly after the work’s October 2011 world premiere in Los Angeles and features Smith’s Golden Quintet with the composer on trumpet, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, and drummers Susie Ibarra and Pheeroan akLaff, as well as the nine-member, Los Angeles-based contemporary classical group, Southwest Chamber Music, under the direction of Grammy-winning conductor Jeff von der Schmidt.

Written over the past 34 years, each of the 19 compositions addresses a different facet of the Civil Rights movement of 1954-1964. According to a press release, “The music honors heroes and events in a transformative period of political and cultural liberation, a period that not only shaped all aspects of Smith’s life and art, but all of America as well.”

JazzTimes covered the premiere of Ten Freedom Summers in a November article, which can be read here.