Wadada Leo Smith’s String Quartet Release Reviewed

Source: The New York Times.

In more recent years, Smith’s work has incorporated collaborations with the pianist Vijay Iyer and the indie-rock group Deerhoof. Another major project was his “Ten Freedom Summers,” an ambitious, four-hour-plus suite that traces the civil rights movement over a long timeline, including sonic evocations of the Dred Scott case and the Jim Crow era.

The string quartet writing in the suite — the four-CD recording was a finalist for the music Pulitzer in 2013 — gave most listeners their first chance to hear his work in that vein, previously found on just a few low-profile releases. “String Quartets Nos. 1-12,” a new seven-CD boxed set on the Finnish label TUM, fills out that history, revealing his sustained dedication to the format, going back to 1965 and his String Quartet No. 1 (revised in 1982).