Wadada Leo Smith Interview

Source: Red Bull Radio.

Wadada Leo Smith is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser whose studies of African, Japanese, European, American and Indonesian music, and invention of the systemic music language Ankhrasmation, have made him one of the most celebrated trumpeters living today. Starting out in marching bands and R&B groups as a teenager in his native Mississippi, he moved on to playing in the Delta blues and improvisational traditions, styles that he developed in the US military band program in the early 1960s. He studied ethnomusicology at the Sherwood School of Music and at Wesleyan University in the ’70s; a noted academic, he teaches at various universities and worked as the director of the African-American Improvisational Music program at CalArts, among other titles. Smith has spent decades developing his trumpet and flugelhorn techniques, and has studied instruments like the atenteben, the Ghanaian bamboo flute. As well as releasing over 40 albums as a band leader since the ‘70s, Smith’s multi-faceted approach to jazz has drawn collaborations with artists like Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Vijay Iyer and Henry Kaiser. A practicing Muslim, Smith draws on philosophy, spirituality and a worldly knowledge of music to create his art.