From The Washington Post:
If “Ten Freedom Summers” isn’t Wadada Leo Smith’s greatest work, it is, without a doubt, his most monumental. It is a piece of music rich in emotional depth, nuance and historical scope. It is also intimidating in its size.
Smith — a jazz trumpeter, improviser and composer — has been writing and refining his all-encompassing meditation on the civil rights movement, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist this year, since 1977. It has swelled to more than five hours of music (although it’s still evolving), requiring 10 musicians spread over two ensembles. On Friday, the trumpeter, 71, and his two groups — the Golden Quartet, a jazz band, and Pacifica Red Coral, a string quartet augmented with a harpist and percussionist — began a concert series that would, over the course of three programs and two days at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, cover the bulk of the composition. It’s fairly dense and heady listening.