May 22, 2024

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Wadada Leo Smith, Amina Claudine Myers – Central Park’s Mosaics Of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens – 2024: Video, CD cover

Reconnecting Lifelines: Iconic Creative Musicians Wadada Leo Smith and Amina Claudine Myers Unveil Their Very First Duo Release: Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens, out May 10 via Red Hook Records.

Red Hook Records is pleased to announce the May 10, 2024 release of Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens, a remarkable convergence of two kindred musical spirits – trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith and newly minted NEA Jazz Master pianist and organist Amina Claudine Myers. This extraordinary collaboration marks the master musicians’ first recorded collaboration and their first involvement since their early years as key members of the iconic Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Central Park serves as a testament to the enduring power of artistic connection and the evolution of musical mastery.

On Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths, and Gardens, the duo paint scenes and conjure landscapes with the musical sound fields created by Smith’s supple horn and Myers’ fervent piano and organ. With pieces deriving inspiration from Central Park’s many natural splendors, the album strikes tones of wistfulness, longing, awe, discord, and peace. Central Park has a considered quality, a slowness that both gives it depth and is evidence of the gravity of its makers. The album is marked by the convergence of two iconic sounds and an intentionality of texture created between their two instruments and the sonority fully encompassed by their individual musical refrains and the space between.

Left to their own devices, Smith and Myers, both hailing from the South before finding their artistic homes in Chicago, discovered a profound gravitational pull drawing them back together. Their shared history as key first-wave members of the AACM laid the groundwork for a friendship and creative partnership that spans over half a century. The AACM is a pioneering collective of musicians dedicated to the promotion and advancement of creative improvisation and experimental music. Founded in Chicago in the 1960s, the organization has served as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration within the jazz and avant-garde music communities.

Myers, who famously appeared in the second AACM concert, with Philip Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble at the South Shore Ballroom in 1966, preceded Smith by a year or so. While he was studying at the Sherwood Music School at the Fine Arts Building in the Loop, Smith became active in the AACM, where he grew into one of its most important philosophers and composers; like many AACMers, he spent a period in Europe before moving to Connecticut and California, sharing his own version of concepts germinated in the AACM.

In 2015, nearly fifty years after their initial encounter, Smith penned the poignant composition “Amina Claudine Myers” as a tribute to his esteemed colleague, and recorded the composition with his Great Lakes Quartet and as a solo trumpet piece. Smith’s homage to his fellow AACM member and musical counterpart, Myers, sets the stage for the mesmerizing journey that unfolds in Central Park.

The album emanates a deliberate, contemplative quality, inviting listeners to immerse themselves in its rich sonic tapestry. Myers’ masterful piano work, showcased prominently throughout the album, guides the listener through a series of elegant, introspective episodes, each imbued with a sense of profound depth and emotional resonance. Smith’s trumpet, with its radiant tones and illuminating presence, serves as a beacon of hope and upliftment.

As Central Park unfolds, it becomes evident that Smith and Myers possess an unparalleled capacity for connection and expression. Their collaborative effort serves as a master class in inventive exchange, offering listeners a glimpse into the boundless potential of artistic partnership. From Myers’ opening notes on “Conservatory Gardens,” in which she gradually spells out harmonic terrain, the program unfolds as a series of elegant, sometimes elegiac, episodes. A tributary of trust. A delta of decisiveness. A slow-moving stream of sensitivity.

The album continues with “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir”, with a regal quality, Myers on the B3 organ, and Smith with a muted trumpet – the duo pays their homage to the central defining landmark of Central Park, its main body of water. A perfect complement, on the solo piano piece “When Was”, penned by Myers, Myers shows her nimble-fingered jubilance, also in her cool organ sound, as buoyant as a life raft, keeping listeners safely above turbulent water.

“The Harlem Meer” strikes a relaxed chord with wistful undertones – reflecting the body of water in the northeast corner of Central Park – a place for relaxation and reflection where park-dwellers can often be found observing wildlife, picnicking, and fishing. The album’s closing tributes to Albert Ayler and John Lennon further underscore the artists’ commitment to peace and social justice, infusing the music with a transcendent sense of purpose.

In a world where connections often fray and fade, Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths, and Gardens stand as a testament to the enduring power of musical kinship. Through their shared journey, Wadada Leo Smith and Amina Claudine Myers invite listeners to rediscover the beauty of human connection and the transformative power of creative expression.

Central Park is the latest release from the adventurous Red Hook Records, which was founded in 2020 by Sun Chung after a decade-long tenure at ECM. “It was a rare privilege to be able to work with these two masters. Even more so as the results are stunning. The music on this album reaches depths only attainable through a lifetime of dedication to the arts,” he reflects. This album follows the critically-acclaimed trio record Refract, by BlankFor.ms, Jason Moran, and Marcus Gilmore, and Two Centuries, the first Red Hook collaboration with Wadada Leo Smith, which featured Qasim Naqvi and Andrew Cyrille.

Tracklisting:

Conservatory Gardens (9:02) Wadada Leo Smith
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (1:52) Wadada Leo Smith
Central Park at Sunset (5:17) Wadada Leo Smith
When Was (5:33) Amina Claudine Myers
The Harlem Meer (3:07) Wadada Leo Smith
Albert Ayler, a meditation in light (6:30) Wadada Leo Smith
Imagine, a mosaic for John Lennon (5:06) Wadada Leo Smith

NEW RELEASE: Wadada Leo Smith and Amina Claudine Myers’ ‘Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens’ is due out May 10 via Red Hook Records

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