Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sound, Silence and Space...

In the middle ‘80’s I stumbled upon the opportunity to meet and film trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. He was in my hometown to play at a concert with the Bill Smith Ensemble. They were promoting their new (at the time) Sackville recording, Rastafari. I was asked by my radio co-host (at the time), David Lewis, if I would be interested in participating in a video project he was leading. He was putting together a documentary on Smith with writer Andre Alexis and needed a person to operate one of the video cameras. I told him definitely yes! We spent an evening in the Saw Gallery filming the two Smiths, as well as bassist/cellist David Lee and violinist David Prentice performing group improvisations. There were two cameras – one in a long shot that remained static but panned across and one handheld that would change perspectives and positions as the music progressed. I was in charge of the handheld camera. My only instructions were: follow the soloists, no jagged/fast pans, and keep the camera moving slowly from player to player.

outtake from the original Sackville cover shoot------------------>

the current Boxholder cover ------------------------>

Sadly, I never got to see the results of our work after that night. I’m not even sure whether David has the video or Andre does or whether it even exists today. I’d love to see it now if it does…

Wadada Leo Smith’s musical journey has snaked (think: the Mississippi River, as in the Mississippi Delta where Leo was born in 1941) through the musical neighbourhoods known as “the blues”, “free jazz”, “world music”, “the avant-garde” and “jazz fusion”. And this is where we get off.

The concert we have here is a 1983 performance of Smith’s band (at the time) Leo Smith’s New Delta Ahkri in Hartford Connecticut. Why a stop in the jazz fusion neighbourhood? Because this concert channels Miles Davis’s 1970’s music (think: Fillmore or Live/Evil and you’ll know where you are). It’s a killer band made up of Wadada Leo Smith (just Leo at that time) on trumpet, flugelhorn and vocal; Marty Ehrlich (a big fave of mine!) on reeds; James on electric guitar (he’s usually known as the acoustic classical guitarist and co-leader of the String Trio of New York) and Thurman Barker on drums. Also, if you’re familiar with Wadada Leo Smith’s work with Henry Kaiser on the “Yo Miles! Project” you’ll know what’s in store with this concert. It’s made up of six unknown compositions…


1 comment:

  1. Hi Ron,

    Simply amazing! So beautifull!

    Thanks very much, great blog!