Friday, December 2, 2011, Bezanson Recital Hall
The Solos & Duos Series, produced by the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, concludes its 10th season with a concert by the Wadada Leo Smith/Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer Duo.
General Admission: $10; Students $5
Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer is one of the master musicians of contemporary European jazz, a percussionist of enormous originality and humor, who has recorded with Cecil Taylor, Peter Brötzmann and Günter Grass. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is a hugely influential trumpeter and educator, who has worked with every major improviser of the last 40 years.
There is a small tradition of trumpet and drums duos in jazz: Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell in 1969, and Bill Dixon and Tony Oxley in 1997. Smith and Sommer, who have been playing together since the late 1970s, add to this legacy. “The cinematic effect of this music is absolutely uncanny,” writes Thom Jurek.
“This duo has established its own abstract-concrete musical space,” writes Oliver Schwerdt in the liner notes to Wisdom in Time (Intakt, 2006). “In a mature dimension, magic can be produced like this, using spurs to ramble to a cosmic organon: essential fruits of a long life. As demanding as they are pleasing. World-class calm.”
Born in Dresden, East Germany, in 1943, Sommer studied at the Hochschule für Musik “Carl Maria von Weber” from 1962-66. (He now teaches at the University.) He was soon performing with masters like saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowksy and pianist Ulrich Gumpert, and has released over 100 recordings with Peter Kowald, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Barre Phillips.
Born in Leland, Mississippi, in 1941, Wadada Leo Smith has been a celebrated teacher at CalArts since 1993, a life-long member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, winner of numerous grants and awards from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation, and collaborated with Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Carla Bley, David Murray, Don Cherry and Jeanne Lee, among many others. “Leo Smith is one of the most vital musicians on the planet today,” writes Bill Shoemaker. “To say that Smith is a highly original player would be an understatement.”
In collaboration with the University’s DEFA Film Library, a screening of Juergen Boettcher’s celebrated 2001 experimental documentary, “A Place in Berlin”, which features “Baby” Sommer, will take place, Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Amherst Cinema. Sommer will also perform a short solo set.
To hear samples from or to purchase their newest collaboration check out the itunes store.
The Solos & Duos Series is produced by the UMass Fine Arts Center. Thanks to the UMass Hotel at the Campus Center. Amherst College and WMUA, 91.1FM