Wadada Leo Smith

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Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith (Dec 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi) is a jazz trumpeter. He started out playing drums, mellophone and French horn before he settled on the trumpet. He played in various R&B groups and by 1967 became a member of the AACM and co-founded the Creative Construction Company, a trio with Leroy Jenkins and Anthony Braxton. In 1971 Smith formed his own label, Kabell. He also formed another band, the New Dalta Ahkri, with members including Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis and Oliver Lake. In the seventies Smith studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan. He played again with Anthony Braxton as well as recording with Derek Bailey's Company. In the mid-eighties, Smith became Rastafarian and began using the name Wadada. In 1993, he began teaching at Cal Arts, a position he currently holds.

In 1998, Smith and guitarist Henry Kaiser released Yo, Miles! a tribute to Miles Davis's under-appreciated 1970s electric period. On this album Smith, Kaiser and a large cast of musicians recorded cover versions and original compositions inspired by Miles's electric music. The follow-ups Sky Garden (released by Cuneiform in 2004) and Upriver (released in 2005) were recorded with a different cast of musicians. Both line-ups featured Michael Manring on bass.

Smith's Golden Quartet (with whom he's released two albums) features Jack DeJohnette on drums, Anthony Davis on keyboards, and Malachi Favors on bass.

Smith has recently recorded a few albums for the Tzadik record label.

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