“Organic’s music is a swirling roar, part fusion and part jazz rock orchestra, like a combination of Burnt Sugar and Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats Ensemble.” – The Wire, February 2010 cover story
"Organic’s music is powerfully electric and electronic in nature; fiery and interactive in character; contemporary, spiritual and politically conscious, its creative energy is heartfelt and connected with the human feeling."
– Wadada Leo Smith
Although he made his reputation over decades and decades of work in the free jazz and improvised music realm and as a early member of Chicago's hugely influencial AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music), trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has long been interested in larger ensembles and electric music as well. Heart’s Reflections is a bold double-disc set that features Wadada Leo Smith's Organic, a predominately electric, fourteen-piece group, a band most notable for a lineup marked by four guitarists. In addition to Smith, who plays both acoustic and electric trumpet, the extraordinary lineup on Heart’s Reflection includes: Brandon Ross, Michael Gregory, Lamar Smith, and Josh Gerowitz on guitar; Skuli Sverrisson and John Lindberg on bass; Angelica Sanchez on acoustic and electric piano; Stephanie Smith on violin; Casey Anderson on alto saxophone; Casey Butler on tenor saxophone; Mark Trayle and Charlie Burgin on laptops; and Pheeroan AkLaff on drums.
For a record by such a large group, at times the sound is surprisingly sparse and delicate - both qualities that have long marked Smith's work, while at other times, it sizzles and stomps! Though longtime listeners who haven't followed Wadada's work in the last decade might be surprised at times by the fierceness of Organic’s rhythm section, Heart’s Reflections is nonetheless marked by the trumpeter’s usual touchstones: long sustained notes, occasional clipped phrases, and a tough-to-define playfulness that infuses all of his work.
Coming across like the next evolutionary step after Miles Davis’ electric era, Heart’s Reflections is a vibrant set that harkens back to the blues influence of Smith’s Mississippi childhood, and looks forward to still-developing realms of noise and electronics. The album fuses a galaxy of influences into a natural and accessible form, offering an ideal entry point into Smith’s vast oeuvre. Heart’s Reflections should appeal to fans of groove-oriented jazz, as well as rock and electronics audiences with a taste for adventure.
released May 17, 2011
Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet, electric trumpet
Michael Gregory - electric guitars
Pheeroan akLaff - drums
Brandon Ross - electric guitar
John Lindberg - acoustic bass, electric acoustic bass
Skúli Sverrisson - electric bass, 6-string bass
Angelica Sanchez - acoustic piano, Wurlitzer electric piano
Josh Gerowitz - electric guitar
Lamar Smith - electric guitar
Stephanie Smith - violin
Casey Anderson - alto saxophone
Casey Butler - tenor saxophone
Mark Trayle - laptop
Charlie Burgin - laptop
All compositions by Wadada Leo Smith.
Produced by Michael Gregory.
Executive Producer: Wadada Leo Smith
Stereo Channel Field Information:
Wadada Leo Smith: center and stereo; Michael Gregory: channel left to center stereo; Pheeroan aKlaff: stereo; Brandon Ross: channel right to center stereo; John Lindberg: channel left to center stereo; Skúli Sverrisson: channel right to center stereo; Angelica Sanchez; channel right to center stereo; Josh Gerowitz: stereo; Lamar Smith: stereo; Stephanie Smith: stereo; Casey Butler: stereo; Casey Anderson: stereo; Mark Trayle: stereo; Charlie Burgin: stereo.
Order of Solos (soloists move to center stereo stage)
1. Don Cherry’s Electric Sonic Garden (for Don Cherry)
order of solos: (1) Wadada Leo Smith (2) Michael Gregory (3) Angelica Sanchez
(4) Brandon Ross (5) Wadada Leo Smith/collective
Heart’s Reflections: Splendors of Light and Purification (11 Movements: Disc One, tracks 2-9, and Disc Two, tracks 1-3)
(For Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili)
2. The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts, Part I
order of solos: (1) Wadada Leo Smith (2) Pheeroan akLaff
3. The Dhikr of Radiant Hearts, Part II
order of solos: (1) Angelica Sanchez (2) collective (3) John Lindberg
4. The Majestic Way
order of solos: (1) Wadada Leo Smith (2) Josh Gerowitz (3) Michael Gregory (4) Wadada Leo Smith/Pheeroan akLaff (5) Pheeroan akLaff
5. The Shaykh, as far as Humaythira
solo: (1) Wadada Leo Smith/collective
6. Spiritual Wayfarers
solo: (1) Wadada Leo Smith/collective
order of solos: (1) Wadada Leo Smith (2) Angelica Sanchez (3) Brandon Ross (4) Michael Gregory (5) Wadada Leo Smith
8. Ritual Purity and Love, Part 1
order of solos: (1) Mark Trayle (2) Stephanie Smith (3) Charlie Burgin
9. Ritual Purity and Love, Part II
order of solos: (1) Pheeroan akLaff (2) Skúli Sverrisson (3) John Lindberg
solo: Pheeroan akLaff
11. The Well: From Bitter to Fresh Sweet Water, Part I
order of solos: (1) Wadada Leo Smith (2) Pheeroan akLaff (3) Skúli Sverrisson
12. The Well: From Bitter to Fresh Sweet Water, Part II
solo: Wadada Leo Smith
13. Toni Morrison: The Black Hole (Sagittarius A*), Conscience and Epic Memory (for Toni Morrison)
order of solos: (1) Wadada Leo Smith (2) Mark Trayle/Charlie Burgin/Stephanie Smith (3) Angelica Sanchez
14. Leroy Jenkins’s Air Steps (for Leroy Jenkins)
order of solos: (1) collective (2) Pheeroan akLaff (3) Brandon Ross (4) Wadada Leo Smith/Skúli Sverrisson/John Lindberg/Angelica Sanchez (5) Wadada Leo Smith/Stephanie Smith/Josh Gerowitz/Michael Gregory (6) Wadada Leo Smith/Skúli Sverrisson/Angelica Sanchez/John Lindberg (7) Michael Gregory (8) Skúli Sverrisson/John Lindberg/Angelica Sanchez/Pheeroan akLaff
Recorded and mixed at Firehouse 12 Recording Studio, New Haven CT.
Engineer: Nick Lloyd
Tracking Assistant: Doug DiCrosta
Overdub Engineer: Clay Chaplin, Herb Alpert’s School of Music, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA.
Mixed by Nick Lloyd, Michael Gregory and Wadada Leo Smith.
Mastered by Gene Paul at G&J Audio, Union City, NJ.
Jamie Polaski: Mastering Assistant