March 14, 2013
All About Jazz
Wadada Leo Smith: The Teacher
By Franz A. Matzner
Wadada Leo Smith's career as a creative musician spans more than forty years. The trumpeter/composer's myriad accomplishments have been well-documented, particularly recently, as his recoding and performance career have undergone a marked renaissance, the success of which has shown a spotlight not only on his recent undertakings, but also inspired a reexamination of his past works.
As an early contributor to the development of the free music revolution, Smith was an early member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an integral force in the development of the free music movement. Since his early works where he helped redefine the contours of improvisational jazz, Smith has been exploring the outer and inner frontiers of improvisational music and composition via a numerous ensembles, projects, and theoretical writings. He has developed a unique musical notation system and has held formal teaching positions at the University of New Haven (1975-'76), the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY (1975-'78), and Bard College (1987-'93) and The Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts.