Wadada Leo Smith
Photograph: Michael Jackson

Wadada Leo Smith’s new festival in New Haven.

Wadada Leo Smith, the venerable trumpeter, composer, improviser, and bandleader who recently performed at National Sawdust alongside pianist Vijay Iyer, has just announced a new two-day celebration built around some of his most ambitious and profound works. The inaugural CREATE Festival is scheduled to take place on April 8 and 9, 2017, at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT.

Says the official press release:

“This idea has been in a dream state for many, many years,” Smith says. That long-cherished dream has been realized in part due to support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which awarded Smith the Doris Duke Artist Award in 2016. The festival offers a thrilling, rare opportunity to delve deeply into the full scope of Smith’s sui generis compositional voice and approach, which – in their category-defying range and breadth – can only be classified using Smith’s preferred term, “Creative Music.”

According to the press announcement, Smith envisions the entire festival as a single event, which he calls “Kosmic Music: A Sonic Spectrum of Crystallized Rhythm: Pure – In Eight Parts with Five Ensembles.” The schedule is chock-full of choice performances and unique touches; opening seminars each day (noon-2pm), for instance, include a side of Creole gumbo – literally! – and coffee brewed by Smith himself. Extensive evening concerts follow at 7pm each night.

The April 8 concert features Smith’s Dark Lady of the Sonnets, excerpts from his Rosa Parks Oratorio, the world premiere of his String Quartets Nos. 9 and 10 (the latter including pianist Anthony Davis), and selections from America’s National Parks played by Smith’s Golden Quintet. The April 9 program includes more from America’s National Parks, plus Smith’s String Quartet No. 12 – actually a quartet of violas plus electronics and Smith’s trumpet – and a premiere by New Dalta Akhri, featuring longtime collaborators Dwight Andrews on woodwinds and Bobby Naughton on vibraphone.

Both of the seminars and several concerts will include contributions from video artist Jesse Gilbert, and each evening concert will open with performances by young, unsigned artists selected by Smith. Right now there’s no web address for the CREATE Festival, but you can keep an eye on Smith’s website and the Firehouse 12 page for further details.

2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Further reading


Jakub Hrůša, Keiji Haino, Anthony Braxton, Chaya Czernowin, Annika Socolofsky, Stefan Fraunberger, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.

Album review: Pierluigi Billone, ITI KE MI; Equilibrio. Cerchio

Memory is a tricky thing – one reason why critics often abstain from speaking in absolutes. You might witness a live event of seemingly ineffable magnitude. Yet assuming there's no recording immediately available, no dispassionate document by which to check your instincts once the moment of initial contact cools and fades, who's to say whether you overreacted?


Bill Rieflin, Jaimie Branch, Roscoe Mitchell, Ben Richter, Alice Coltrane, Threefifty, Erkki Kurenniemi, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.

Album review: David Lang, thorn

For all that his large-scale works have commanded the spotlight over the last decade or so, David Lang initially burst into the public eye and ear with pithy, concise, and clever chamber works… On 'thorn,' an appealing new CD by flutist Molly Barth, Lang's puckish instrumental miniatures assume center stage.