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Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell: The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer

The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer documents the historic radio performance (and first collaboration) by legendary musicians Ed Blackwell and Wadada Leo Smith. Recorded in 1986, it's certainly geared toward a specific audience, but even the biggest fans of improve jazz and one chord jamming may find it a bit too repetitive. For the rest of us, it wears out its welcome shortly.

Trumpeter/composer Smith and late, well respected drummer Blackwell actually met in 1969. Blackwell was touring Europe with Ornette Coleman's quartet, and when they hit Paris, he and Smith (who'd been living there) struck up a friendship. Seventeen years later, the duo recorded this performance at Brandeis University. While the duo easily showcase their individual skills and make a lot out of only a few instruments, BMSD is more valuable for its historical significance than it is for its music; honestly, it's not very diverse or engaging.

The album opens with "Uprising," and after hearing it, you've essentially heard the whole recording. Smith plays some random notes and melodies lines as Blackwell follows either simply or with some intense syncopation. The trumpet flares up and then calms down while the drums either glide along or chase quickly. There are a few deviations from this on BMSD, but just because they're different doesn't mean they're any more interesting.

"Seeds of a Forgotten Flower" is a very sparse musical poem. It's basically a man reciting wisdom as simple, tribal percussion is played. One can imagine a beatnik audience snapping their fingers after each verse. "Don't You Remember" is an exact continuation of this, albeit with horns this time.

Clearly, BMSD is not for everyone (myself included); it's often very slow and seemingly aimless, and when the speed does pick up, it hardly becomes more intriguing. Blackwell and Smith complement each other very well and their importance to their genres is not being undermined here. If you're a fan of minimalist jazz, then by all means, enjoy this album; however, it's likely that a large majority of listeners will find it quite boring.

Track Listing
1. Uprising
2. Love
3. Seeds of a Forgotten Flower
4. The Blue Mountain Sun Drummer
5. Mto: The Celestial River
6. Don't You Remember
7. Sellassie-I
8. Seven Arros in the Garden of Light
9. Buffalo People: A Blues Ritual Dance
10. Albert Ayler In A Spiritual Light

Added: February 3rd 2011
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1884
Language: english

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