Procession of the Great Ancestry

Procession of the Great Ancestry

by Wadada Leo Smith


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Recorded in 1983 in Nessa's Acme studio in Chicago, Procession of the Great Ancestry is among Wadada Leo Smith's most obscure, but ultimately most satisfying, recordings. Featuring Kahil El'Zabar, Louis Myers, Joe Fonda, John Powell, Mchaka Uba, and Bobby Naughton, this was the first album to showcase Smith's expansive vision, which included all forms of black music -- from the myriad languages of jazz to gutbucket blues, reggae, and various African folk musics as well as a little R&B groove for measure. It was also the first to feature his wonderful vocals as a mainstay on his projects. Fans can think of this disc as Kulture Jazz, Vol. 1, with a band. The disc opens with "Blues: Jah Jah Is the Perfect Love," a deeply moving blues that is equal parts funky backbeat and Nigerian rhythm with a reggae groove. Smith sings with soul as the band weaves a magic spell around him. This is immediately followed by the title track, a gentle but very abstract piece written for Miles Davis that incorporates Davis' modal science and Smith's sense of space and dynamic. This is the first of four pieces for trumpeters; the next work, "The Flower That Seeds the Earth," is for Booker Little, and "The Third World, Grainery of Pure Earth" is for Roy Eldridge. Track six, "Celestial Sparks in the Sanctuary of Redemption," is for Dizzy Gillespie. All of these works are in the free jazz mode, but their gentleness is their attraction. Smith here is playing a poetic balladry for these men, while musically elucidating his cosmology -- the rhythm section is so attuned, so finely restrained and tasteful, Smith could sing it out if he wanted to, but instead he creates long melody lines that whisper to completion. The set closes with "Nuru Light: The Prince of Peace," a short processional in minor mode that has Naughton's vibraharp playing fills under the horn lines and through El'Zabar's brushed drums. After its deeply moving, sonorous theme, a pair of kalimbas and the vibraharp play a lullaby to balance the weight, taking it out with enough grace and elegance to make the listener nod in wonder before playing it again.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/17/2009
Label: Nessa Records
UPC: 0827020002629
catalogNumber: 26
Rank: 148748

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