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Wadada Leo Smith's Organic: Heart's Reflections

There is no doubting Wadada Leo Smith is an outstanding trumpet player and his body of work is impressive to say the least. He released his debut album in 1972 and more than thirty albums later we have his latest offering Heart's Reflections.

This is his fifth release for Cuneiform Records and after listening to Heart's Reflections it would seem to be a marriage made in heaven. As is so often the case with music having an experimental edge this is a pretty tough CD to categorize. First and foremost this is a jazz record although there is so much more here than meets the ear. Ambient, minimalism, electronics, blues, funk, and rock are all part of the equation. What that equals is up for you to decide.

There is a lot of music to digest, almost two hours, so it will take a little time to fully absorb. That and the fact this is not the easiest music 'to get', you might need to take a little time with this one. There is so much going on and so many styles touched upon your senses may be a little saturated by the time the music stops.

Playing on the record are no less that fourteen musicians and at times the band really rips up the soundscape like in the opening twenty plus minute epic "Don Cherry's Electric Sonic Garden". Lots of experimental sounds, off kilter electric rhythms and biting lead guitar together with Smith's avant-garde trumpet flourishes makes for a real mind bender. Later on a sprinkling of piano is inundated by fuzzed out guitar rhythms and heavy bass riffs.

With "The Shaykh, as far as Humaythira" the band switches from a more palatable sound where the trumpet carries the melody to discordant chaos and veritable mayhem. Jarring rhythmic changes and wild trumpet blasts dominate the soundscape.

A more minimalist approach can be heard in "Ritual Purity and Love, Part I". The soundscapes are more sparse and the instrumentation more ambient; a foreshadowing of some of the sounds heard on the second disc.

CD 2 opens with the experimental minimalism of "Silsila" which showcases a pretty good drum solo. This CD may be even more experimental than the first. Songs like "The Well: From Bitter to Fresh Sweet Water, Part II" and "Toni Morrison: The Black Hole (Sagittarius A*) showcase the band's penchant for ambient soundscapes and eerie atmospherics. Whether you like this or not, there is no denying the band's creativity and imaginative touches. The piano solo in "Sagittarius" is quite riveting.

This is not easy jazz to digest, hence, fans of Kenny G need not apply. However, if you like experimental jazz where dissonance and chaos reign supreme Heart's Reflections should provide hours of listening enjoyment.

Track Listing:
Disc One
1. Don Cherry's Electric Sonic Garden (20:50)
2. The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts, Part I (2:33)
3. The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts, Part II (6:27)
4. The Majestic Way (9:13)
5. The Shaykh, as far as Humaythira (7:29)
6. Spiritual Wayfarers (6:11)
7. Certainty (5:24)
8. Ritual Purity and Love, Part I (3:35)
9. Ritual Purity and Love, Part II (2:32)

Disc Two
1. Silsila (5:35)
2. The Well: From Bitter to Fresh Sweet Water, Part I (6:13)
3. The Well: From Bitter to Fresh Sweet Water, Part II (5:02)
4. Toni Morrison: The Black Hole (Sagittarius A*), Conscience and Epic Memory
5. Leroy Jenkin's Air Steps (22:29)

Added: November 24th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1615
Language: english

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