Record Review: Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell

Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell
The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer
Mixed at 4D, Brooklyn, NY by Liberty Ellman
Mastered at Golden Mastering, Ventura CA by JJ Golden

When the sonic language of multiplicity fuses as one, musical communication has the power to become transcendent–like a intravenous shot, the expression flows through the musicians and straight to the listener. For two men during an October night at Brandeis University, that’s likely exactly what happened. The Blue Mountain’s Sun Drummer features Wadada Leo Smith and Ed Blackwell in a harmony-less duet performance that ineffably works. Aside from Indian music it is hard to believe that unrehearsed melodic improvisation would, but thanks to the extreme musicality of Blackwell, it does.

“We found a connecting energy with each other without talking, and the connection was so deep that it sounds as if what Blackwell plays was fixed compositionally; it wasn’t.” For 10 tunes, Ed Blackwell plays the most melodic spacious drumming you have ever heard-you have to keep reminding yourself: it’s only two instruments. It’s not chops or some sort of cleverness inherent in his playing, but rather a musicality, originality and iconoclasm that has rubbed off on some of the most original of the current generation, namely The Bad Plus’ Dave King. For anyone interested in Blackwell, Smith, or drumming in general, the album is highly recommended.

(By Joe Lang)

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