Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wadada Leo Smith & John Lindberg: Celestial Weather (2015)

Wadada Leo Smith & John Lindberg: Celestial Weather
Two modern avant-garde icons and long-time collaborators with an age-old link to Anthony Braxton's Creative Orchestra, come together for three suites that capitalize on their ability to forge a soundscape that is fuller than the duo format would logically produce. Celestial Weather is an open discourse between two musicians who have mastered their respective instruments to the point of literally giving them an emotive voice of their own.

Lindberg, in recent years, has been an integral part of Smith's Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012) and Occupy the World (TUM Records, 2013) and The Great Lakes Suites (TUM Records, 2014) projects; the first two being larger-scale, powerful works of extensive depth and scope. Celestial Weather, in contrast, is a work where every response is exposed between the two players and the intricacy takes on a life of its own.

Smith's two-part composition, "Malachi Favors Maghostut," dedicated to the AACM bassist Malachi Favors features harmonic fragments rather than an established melody. Suspending preconceived notions of composition is—as frequently is the case with both Smith and Lindberg—a preferable option. The five-part "Celestial Weather Suite," is the second suite and was completely improvised in the recording studio. It is the final movement, "Tornado," where the duo comes closest to a sustained melody.

Lindberg is credited with the final suite, the two-part "Feathers and Earth." Though largely improvised, Lindberg's life experience with the full range of formations from solo to chamber ensembles all finds a home in this section of the album. It goes without saying that both Smith and Lindberg exhibit incredible virtuosity, pushing their instruments beyond the pale without demonstrating the need to impress. Celestial Weather can be a bit overwhelming in terms of what it demands from the listener, but a willingness to let the creative process wash over the need to analyze is the recommended approach to this inventive album. 

Track Listing: Malachi Favors Maghostut: Part I, Part II; Celestial Weather Suite: Cyclone, Hurricane, Icy Fog, Typhoon, Tornado; Feathers and Earth: Part I, Part II.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; John Lindberg: double bass.

Record Label: TUM Records