Tuesday, October 22, 2013

WHAT WE LIVE with WADADA LEO SMITH and DAVE DOUGLAS – Trumpets (1999) - Live recordings 1996/1998

Label: Black Saint – 120189-2 
Format: CD, Album; Country: Italy Released: 1999 
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Tracks 1 & 2 recorded live at The Outpost, Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 21, 1998 
Tracks 3,4,5 recorded live at Western Front, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on November 1, 1996
Engineers – Paul Blakemore (1-2), Peter Courteanche (3-5)
Mastered – by Aldo Borelli
Design – by Tania Kac
What We Live, with bass player Lisle Ellis and drummer Donald Robinson, has worked its way into the top ranks of free jazz and improvised music ensembles with four strong previous albums. Trumpets is the second to present Wadada Leo Smith and Dave Douglas as guest artists; but unlike Quintet for a Day (New World Counter Currents), on which both trumpeters performed on all tracks, Trumpets combines two sessions, each featuring one horn player. The less crowded bandstands yield more satisfying results, as Ellis and Robinson, one of the best bass-drums tag teams on the scene, are more prominent in these wide-open exchanges. Smith and Douglas benefit as well, as their respective nuance-filled styles are more fully explicated with the keenly responsive Ochs as their single front-line foil.
_ By Bill Shoemaker (JazzTimes)

Lawrence Ochs - sopranino & tenor saxophones
Lisle Ellis - bass
Donald Robinson – drums
Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet on tracks 1 & 2
Dave Douglas - trumpet on tracks 3, 4, 5

Trumpets, is the latest from “ What We Live ” and features trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith performing with the trio of saxophonist Larry Ochs, bassist Lisle Ellis and drummer Donald Robinson during a live date recorded in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Whereas trumpeter Dave Douglas – who has been lighting up the jazz world these days with a string of dazzling recordings, joins the band on tracks culled from a live set recorded in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.

The core constituents of “ What We Live ” : Ochs, Ellis and Robinson frequently collaborate with other artists yet the bottom line or overall chemistry indicates that this band is an – improvising/modern music/jazz machine – of the highest order. On the composition, “ Second Breath ” , drummer Donald Robinson commences the proceedings with a series of melodic tom-tom fills and articulations, as Ochs’ corpulent tenor sax tone and fleet fingered phrasing along with Smith’s brawny and brassy lines initiate a rite of passage or perhaps an opening of the floodgates.... An air of exotic mysticism prevails or perhaps some semblance of a tribal ritual is unveiling as the Quartet ruminate through various phases and motifs along with a substantial amount of engaging dialogue and interplay. We hear quiet or subdued dynamics on “ The Stone Heated Dance ” , while Smith utilizes his mute which segues into a series of extended movements and an altogether brilliant exposition by bassist Lisle Ellis as the tempo picks up steam and the band pursue extroverted and authoritative choruses.

Dave Douglas provides a contrasting alternative to Smith as the listener is afforded the opportunity to hear two gifted trumpeters who respectively possess distinctive styles and techniques. With, “ Orbital ” , Douglas is a buzzsaw as the band partakes in a moderate swing motif along with shifting meter and rapid movement. Here Douglas and Ochs performing on tenor sax engage in passionate dialogue as they occasionally cavort while deriving inspiration from one another as Robinson and Ellis execute the rhythms with all the discipline of a small militia who have just received their battle plan. Robinson’s expert brushwork behind the kit surfaces on the delicate burner titled, “ Soft City ” as Ochs’ fervid and piquant phrasing on “ Song of Roland ” is a thing of beauty. Again, the saxophonist and Douglas speak loud and clear via festive exchanges while embarking on a sinuous path as the story continues to unfold!

The Trumpets shall boldly pronounce the advent of a new and seemingly eventful year in jazz as “ What We Live ” continue to astound and render intelligible music that defies any rigid sense of categorization. Recommended.

(AAJ, Published: March 1, 2000)

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  1. WHAT WE LIVE with WADADA LEO SMITH & DAVE DOUGLAS – Trumpets (1999)


  2. Vitko this looks awesome! Leo Smith AND Douglas? On Black Saint?!? I had no earthly idea that this gem existed. Thanks so much for the listen!!!

    1. Okay Vitko . . . it IS awesome. Many thanks for the opportunity to hear this!

  3. a favorite trio from the old SF scene - they really lifted the room. And Lisle Ellis, man ... what a force.

  4. As usual you post astonishing and interesting off-the-road recordings. Thanks!!
    Cheers Daniel, from Madrid, Spain

  5. Just gettiing to some of these listings, the depth of your work is incredible. Thanks for all you do!!

  6. formidable performances...thank you...

  7. One published in 2013. MediaFire makes it possible.

    Thank you, Vitko!

  8. Sometimes this is incredibly beautiful surprise. Cheers, soyo!