Saturday, December 15, 2018

Wadada Leo Smith and Sabu Toyozumi - Burning Meditation (No Business, 2018)

This is a sublimely beautiful duet recording featuring Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, koto, bamboo flute, voice and percussion and Sabu Toyozumi and drums and percussion. It was recorded in Yamaguchi, Japan in March of 1994 and saw a limited release at the time before being picked up by No Business for a wider release in 2018. It does not take long for the music to elevate to a high degree of clarity with Smith's excellent trumpet playing meeting Toyozumi's stellar drumming on the opening selection, "Creative Music -1- Red Mountain Garden, Wild Irises and Glacier Lines" a very lengthy selection, like the following performance, "Burning Meditation – Uprising" selections which are are played with a strong sense of creative consciousness, even when the music is at its most intense it is never shrill or overbearing. The music was composed spontaneously, but proceeds with a sense of grace that is ever present in their music. Smith is mostly known for his trumpet work and justly so, but it is fascinating to hear different sides of his musical personality come into play on tracks like "Don Cherry, A Silver Flute Song" where he plays large and small bamboo flutes. Like Smith, Cherry was originally known for his trumpet playing with Ornette Coleman, but toured the world, adding flutes and many other instruments to his repertoire. Smith plays quite beautifully, improvising with a light, dancing sense of fluid elegance that carries into the next track, "There are Human Rights Blues," where he sings, chants, and speaks with a shy yet authoritative voice allowing pauses for breath and to allow Toyozumi's evocative percussion work to weave its way into the performance making for a powerful and memorable duet that leads into their final track, "Stars, Lightning Bugs and Chrysanthemum Flowers." This is an excellent album, and it is wonderful to have it more widely available, with new liner notes in English and Japanese from the original record producer and some nice period pictures included. The remastering is excellent, this is a delicate album, one you want yo get close to, and the transparent warmth of the sound makes that possible. Burning Meditation - No Business Records

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