Jazz Interview with jazz trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start withwhere you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Wadada Leo Smith: – I grew up in a family where music was important and my step-father was a great blues master. Alex “Little Bill” Wallace was his name. He was a guitarist, singer and composer.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the trumpet? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today?
WLS: – What made you choose the trumpet?I was given the trumpet to play by Mr Oneal Jones my first music teacher.So I did not chose it, Allah did.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
WLS: – Your sound is who you are and therefore one is born with there sound.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
WLS: – I play long sounds, rhythm is a gift from the Creator. To perfect it the recipient must be serious and willing to use it to the best he is able to when creating music.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?
WLS: – No. I don’t use harmony or dissonance in my music I use sound.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
WLS: – One finds themselves. And knowing how to listen to what other artist create.
JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <Andrew Cyrille, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith & Bill Frisell – Lebroba>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
WLS: – The album is Andrew Cyrille project. It was Andrew’s idea, he picked the musicians and asked Bill and I to compose music for his session.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
WLS: – There is no balance, the soul is given at birth and the intellect is acquired through study and experience.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
WLS: – I make art in the presence and and not for people. The audience can slightly influenced the feeling in the hall because they are part of the ritualized space, but in no way can they decide what the artist create.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
WLS: – Most people as well as musicians live in the past.
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
WLS: – Life is worth living; and whatever come to us is what has be created for us my the Creator. And what is not in our future no one can change.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
WLS: – The “musical world” is a business with no concerns for art. And that includes musicians and types of performing arts. I have nothing to do with the musical world.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yoWLSurself listening to these days?
WLS: – There is little time to listen to music.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan