Ten Freedom Summers

Ten Freedom Summers

by Wadada Leo Smith
Ten Freedom Summers

Ten Freedom Summers

by Wadada Leo Smith


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Wadada Leo Smith spent nearly 35 years composing Ten Freedom Summers, his massive tribute to the Civil Rights Movement. These 19 compositions address the era's milestones between 1954 and 1964: they celebrate its places, heroes, and motivations, and they remember its martyrs. These four discs contain over five hours of music. It is performed by his Golden Quartet and Golden Quintet, with the composer on trumpet, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, and drummers Pheeroan akLaff and Susie Ibarra, as well as the nine-member, Los Angeles-based contemporary classical group Southwest Chamber Music under the direction of Jeff von der Schmidt. It travels through jazz, contemporary classical music, and modernist improvisation. It was recorded in three days. The compositions are organized in three principal sections "Defining Moments in America," "What Is Democracy," and "Freedom Summers." It was begun in 1977 with "Medgar Evers: A Love-Voice of a Thousand Years' Journey for Liberty and Justice," written for violinist Leroy Jenkins. It was worked on for nearly two decades before being completed in a flurry of activity between 2009 and 2011. Though sprawling and ambitious, Smith's compositions are focused, yet they do allow real freedom of expression for the individual players. The overarching theme of Ten Freedom Summers never overwhelms its content. Individual works don't follow in chronological order, but are organized more organically, allowing for an ease of flow despite the project's grand scale. With a couple of exceptions, the jazz group and the classical ensemble perform separately, and the contrast is beautifully complementary. One exception is on the suite-like "Emmett Till: Defiant, Fearless." The Golden Quartet begins by improvising along a lyric frame, before Southwest Chamber Music enters. Its cellist engages in counterpoint with Lindberg before the GQ drops out, only to return later in full roar as the strings shimmer, fade, then sprint back into the fray until the tune closes with emotional resonance and power. Most of these pieces are long, ranging between nine and 20 minutes. But Smith has been composing for the Golden Quartet and Quintet groups for decades, and has often worked with strings. His musical language moves between these two formations with ease and grace, always achieving his stated aim. He is able to channel each group dynamic, whether in formally composed music, or structured or spontaneous improvisation to articulate a gorgeous narrative flow. As such, Ten Freedom Summers is an encounter with music as much as it is a statement about, and the analysis of, history. The story offered in sound is as emotionally and powerfully resonant, as profound as any written account, because for Smith, this story is immediate; born not of mere topical reflection but of personal and spiritual experience. His commitment is total. Ten Freedom Summers is his magnum opus; it belongs in jazz's canonical lexicon with Duke Ellington's Black Brown & Beige and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite. ~ Thom Jurek

Product Details

Release Date: 05/22/2012
Label: Cuneiform Records
UPC: 0045775035024


Disc 1

  1. Dred Scott: 1857
  2. Malik Al Shabazz and the People of the Shahada
  3. Emmett Till: Defiant, Fearless
  4. Thurgood Marshall and Brown vs. Board of Education: A Dream of Equal Education, 1954
  5. John F. Kennedy's New Frontier and the Space Age, 1960

Disc 2

  1. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 381 Days
  2. Black Church
  3. Freedom Summer: Voter Registration, Acts of Compassion and Empowerment, 1964
  4. Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Disc 3

  1. The Freedom Riders Ride
  2. Medgar Evers: A Love-Voice of a Thousand Years' Journey for Liberty and Justice
  3. The D.C. Wall: A War Memorial for All Times
  4. Buzzsaw: The Myth of a Free Press
  5. The Little Rock Nine: A Force for Desegregation in Education, 1957

Disc 4

  1. America, Pts. 1, 2 & 3
  2. September 11th, 2001: A Memorial
  3. Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, 1964
  4. Democracy
  5. Martin Luther King, Jr: Memphis, The Prophecy

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Wadada Leo Smith   Primary Artist,Trumpet
Alison Bjorkedal   Harp
Lorenz Gamma   Violin
Susie Ibarra   Drums
Jan Karlin   Viola
Tom Peters   Bass
Jeff von der Schmidt   Conductor
Jim Foschia   Clarinet
Pheeroan akLaff   Drums
Lynn Vartan   Percussion
Larry Kaplan   Flute
Shalini Vijayan   Violin
Peter Jacobson   Cello
John Lindberg   Bass
Anthony Davis   Piano

Technical Credits

Jamie Polaski   Mastering Assistant
Wadada Leo Smith   Composer,Producer,Executive Producer
Matthew Snyder   Engineer
Dorothy Cotton   Liner Notes
Southwest Chamber Music   Producer,Executive Producer
Lyn Horton   Drawing
Warren K. Leffler   Photography
Jeff Evens   Editing,Mixing Engineer
Matthew Sumera   Liner Notes
Steve Gunther   Photography
Dorothy Cowfield   Photography
Michael Jackson   Photography
Bill Ellsworth   Package Design
Gene Paul   Mastering Engineer
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