Occupy The World (TUM) is the type of jazz album constructed with the same type of sanctity not unlike the works of Duke Ellington or Charles Mingus. Wadada Leo Smith and TUMO have recorded a wonderful collection of songs where the listener is taken somewhere new and unfamilar, covered over five songs spread over two discs, where the shortest song on the album is under 16 minutes. “Queen Hatshepsut” begins like a classical piece where the instruments make a massive dramatic entrance before things move from free jazz to playful doodling to crafty sonic excursions, and you want to stay for the complete 144 journey because you know you’re not going to leave it the same way you entered. Even the song titles tell about the journey and where one is meant to place themselves: “Crossing On A Southern Road (A Memorial For Marion Brown)”, “Mount Kilimanjaro (Love And Compassion for John Lindberg)”, and “Occupy The World For Life, Liberty And Justice”. You realize these are not only journeys and excursions but cries and pleas for a bit of peace and sanity in a hectic world. If one can’t experience in reality, one is able to experience the potential of this in sound.
Put two musicians in a studio and you will get friendship, a bit of compassion, and a challenge to create something something incredible. This is what Wadada Leo Smith and Louis Moholo-Moholo have done with the brilliant Ancestors (Tum), where it’s just Smith and Moholo-Moholo and no one else, communicating through music and doing it in a fashion that brings together their ancestors of the past towards meeting up with the elders of the future. “Moholo-Moholo/Golden Spirit” sounds like a funeral dirge with just Smith’s trumpet playing over Moholo-Moholo’s slow drum crawl. “No Name In The Street, James Baldwin” sounds like someone just walking out into a busy street with just a trumpet in a hand, and creating the sounds of what is in their vicinity.
One part of this album sounds spontaneous while the other is direct and distinct. The 5-part title track (running close to 26 minutes in full) begins with three minutes of drums and symbols before Smith makes his call with the trumpet in Part 2. The entire piece is very telling, even though it is wordless but its message is clear. We have been here before, and we will be here long after we’re gone, for we are the stories that have yet to be told and the stories that once were. We are the continuation.
Ancestors (TUM) is the forthcoming album from trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo, and you get a chance to hear a track from it before its official release on October 18th. While the two musicians have collaborated many times in a live setting, they’ve never recorded a full album project until now.
While jazz fans familiar with Smith tend to be open to what he offers, this collaboration with Moholo-Moholo will be a new one, not only for its hybrid of sounds and influences from the motherland. While it may be rooted in Africa, Smith says that Moholo-Moholo has created his own drum language, so if you are a fan of the drums and percussion, check out the song below and figure out what both of them are trying to say.