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Loyola Presents Ten Freedom Summers

Loyola press release - September 26, 2017

One night only! The Southern U.S. premiere of legendary composer/trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith’s Civil Rights masterpiece!

Loyola Presents an unforgettable musical evening with boldly original trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers, a Civil Rights tribute and multimedia project that pays tribute to heroes such as Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The concert, slated for Saturday, Oct. 14, will mark the first time this epic work has been performed in the South, and takes place less than one week before Smith releases two new recordings. Smith is delighted to take his masterpiece to Loyola University and to a city like New Orleans with such a rich and storied musical history.

“It will be a great pleasure and honor to perform my Ten Freedom Summers in New Orleans,” Smith says. “This is an outstanding privilege, as New Orleans is the number one cultural city in the United States, having produced a firebrand of music that is created in the present moment. That genre is mistakenly called ‘improvisation’ instead of ‘creation.’”

Performing are Smith’s Golden Quartet, featuring Smith, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. Also appearing are the RedKoral Quartet with violinists Shalini Vijayan and Mona Tian, violist Lorenz Gamma and cellist Ashley Walters, plus video artist Jesse Gilbert.

The show incorporates archival news footage and evocative but abstract cinematic imagery edited with a self-consciously musical sensibility. The production was inspired by August Wilson’s Pulitzer prize-winning 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, in which each play chronicles one of 10 decades of African-American life in the 20th Century.

“I own all 10 of Wilson’s plays and have studied them over the years,” Smith says. “Much like Wilson, what I’m trying to do is give a full impression, show the psychological transformation that America achieved. Each piece has its own motivation, and what ties it together is the psychological thread. Rather than taking 10 decades, I took 10 freedom summers.”

Ten Freedom Summers has received rave reviews worldwide for both its performances and its CD release. Following the premiere at Redcat in Los Angeles, Larry Blumeneld wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Ten Freedom Summers was as striking a display of his expansive vision and his vitality. He still plays trumpet as he always has: with little vibrato and a tone that can be either boldly declarative or soft to the point of breaking…Mr. Smith had made his own statement through instrumental music. And it sounded complete.”

The CD was released in May 2012 on the Cuneiform label and was the No. 3 jazz record of the year in the Rhapsody Jazz Critics poll, where respected critic Francis Davis wrote: “A stunning achievement…It merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.” National Public Radio included the CD in its Top 50 Albums of 2012 and it placed 8th in the 2012 JazzTimes Critics Poll.

The performance grew out of Smith’s 2016 residency at the New Quorum. Located in a New Orleans mansion on historic Esplanade Ave., The New Quorum is a non-profit arts organization bringing professional musicians from across the globe to New Orleans for meaningful cultural exchange with local artists.

Throughout his career, the 75-year-old Wadada Leo Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in sound and approach, as “Creative Music.” A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus.

Born on December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age 13 when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, the bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military Band Program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural, and political environments of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His most recent recording America’s National Parks (October 2016, Cuneiform), a six movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes, earned Smith the designation “National Treasure” from DownBeat Magazine and was heralded as one of the year’s best by the New York Times and many others.

TUM Records will release two new recordings by Smith on Friday, October 20, 2017. Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa showcases Smith with guitarists Michael Gregory Jackson, Henry Kaiser, Brandon Ross, and Lamar Smith, plus Bill Laswell on electric bass, Pheeroan akLaff on drums, and Adam Rudolph on percussion. Alone: Reflections and Meditations on Monk is a solo recording.

For more information about Smith, visit WadadaLeoSmith.com.

Loyola Presents Ten Freedom Summers will be held at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 14 at the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall at Loyola University of New Orleans, 6363 St. Charles Ave. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for the general public. The event is presented by New Quorum. Tickets are available through newquorum.org or through the Loyola Box Office at (504) 865-2074, online at presents.loyno.edu or tickets@loyno.edu. Doors open 30 minutes prior to performance. The Box Office is located in the breezeway of the Communications/Music Complex on the corner of Calhoun St. and St. Charles Ave.

Formerly known as the Montage Performing Arts Series, Loyola Presents showcases some of the top arts events in the entire region. The series is dedicated to providing educational and entertaining performances, which include outstanding concerts, guest performers, master classes, jazz, dance, art and design exhibitions, and theatre productions in an intimate setting. Alongside Loyola’s own faculty artist and student events, the acclaimed performing arts series has featured artists including: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Sir James Galway, Wynton Marsalis, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Alfred Walker, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, the Kronos Quartet, and many, many others.