Sunday, November 19, 2006

Leo Smith: Human Rights

First some info:
Leo Smith
Human Rights
Gramm/Kabell records

1. Ethiopia/Africa
2. Don't You Remember
3. Freedom Song
4. Rastafari #4

5. Humanismo Justa (human rights)
6. Trutmonda Muziko (world music)

Leo Smith: voice, trumpet, chinese hand gong, mbira, fluegelhorn, percussion
Stanya: guitar, synthesizers on 3
James Emery: guitar on 1, 4
Thurman Barker: drums on 1, 4
Michele Navazio: acoustic guitar, synth bass on 1, 4
Tadao Sawai: kotos, percussion on 6
Peter Kowald: bass, tuba, percussion on 6
Guenter Sommer: drums, percussion on 6

recorded between 1982 and 1985

a rip by nonwave
thanks to d. smith
I don't often post 1980s recordings here, but every now and then I stumble across a gem that is worth passing along. Leo Smith (these days known as Wadada Leo Smith) recorded this album in the early to mid 1980s and as I understand it, the album was released in the mid 1980s, before vanishing in the ether. Side 1 has some definite 1980s touches, from the electric guitar stylings that would fit within any rock or fusion band of the period, but it never sounds corny or over-produced. Mainly the tunes on the first side are a mix of jazz, reggae, funk, and blues - some of it instrumental, some of it includes Smith singing. Side 2 is a whole different experience altogether, and starts out with a spoken word statement by Smith, followed by some spirited world music-inspired free improv jamming that goes on for nearly a half hour. To an extent it reminds me of the music that trumpeter & multi-instrumentalist Don Cherry had been doing during the 1970s and 1980s, and I can easily imagine that fans of Cherry's world fusion recordings will like this offering as well.

It would have been a difficult recording for marketing wonks to categorize, and I really think the recording deserves to be simply listened to for what it is - nothing more, nothing less. The sound quality on this one seems pretty good. Still would be great if a proper digital reissue became available.

Download Human Rights