Half Notes: Wadada Leo Smith/Ed Blackwell – The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer (2010)

Share this:

by S. Victor Aaron

From the first, lonely wails notes from Wadada Leo Smith’s trumpet on the propulsive “Uprising,” it becomes crystal clear that this is no ordinary session. Smith and classic-period Ornette Coleman drummer Ed Blackwell had a longstanding friendship, and when the two lived near each other in Connecticut, they joined forces for a single performance at Bradeis University near Boston in October, 1986. Performing all Smith tunes, Smith recalls he barely revealed them to Blackwell ahead of the concert. Nonetheless, Blackwell and Smith played the songs together without any awkward moments, but plenty of instances of beauty. Smith shows himself to be a very emotional, lyrical trumpeter whose mastery of time and space is a hallmark of his. Here, the wide intervals open up a lot of opportunities for Blackwell, an unorthodox but artful percussionist. It’s on such a spare setting like this where it’s easy to discern what an exceptional colorist and manipulator of tones and exotic rhythms this late drumming great really was, even this late in his career. Taken from a radio broadcast that was exquisitely recorded, Smith finally saw fit to take this public and release it on his own Kabell Records imprint. It was a sound decision. The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer is a performance that reinforces the legend of both of these avant garde giants.

Something Else!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Something Else!
Share this:
Close