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Improv:21:
The Systemic Language of Music & the Spirituality of Art: An Informance with Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith

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Item Type: Video Duration: 97 min
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: ROVA

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The intersection between abstract art and improvised music is explored by composer, musician, and educator, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, in this program recorded on March 12, 2007, and produced by ROVA: Arts as part of their Improv 21 series of interview/performances with gifted composers specializing in various forms of improvisation. Smith, a talented jazz trumpeter, first began composing music at the age of 12, and has since gone on to develop a system for guided improvisation that he calls Ankhrasmation. Smith demonstrates how a series of intricate abstract drawings can be interpreted by individual instrumentalists in increasing complex ways. This form of graphic notation, which he used for his CD “'Luminous Axis”, encourages the musicians to seek their own meaning from a common art object. The goal is not to form a language that everyone can understand, nor to produce music from which the score can later easily be reassembled or even remembered. Rather it is the intention of Smith to encourage musicians to assimilate the art forms and their spacial relationships with each other, and to interpret the various symbols they contain, both scientifically and spiritually, and to then share those ideas in musical form with their fellow improvisers. While Smith’s explanations are often as abstract as the Kandinsky-like drawings he uses for his system of graphic notation, over the course of this 96 minute program one can not help but come to a greater appreciation for his artistic sensibilities and his ability to harness the forces of the human imagination.

Musical Selections:  [unidentified work for solo trumpet] (2:37) -- Tastalun, for three muted trumpets (1974-77) (6:38) --[unidentified improvisation for solo trumpet] (2:00) -- [excerpt of solo trumpet based on the “arrow” form of graphic notation] (2:21)
Performers:  Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet (all)
Lester Bowie, trumpet (Tastalun)
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet (Tastalun)
Genres:  Jazz; Free Improvisation
Subject:  Jazz; Improvisation (Music); Graphic notation (Music); Trumpet music; Brass trios (Trumpets (3))
People:  Richardson, Derk; Smith, Wadada Leo, 1941-; Bowie, Lester ; Wheeler, Kenny
Recording Date:  3/12/2007
 
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