Provoked by the formal qualities of Jack Whitten’s art, and to honor the artist’s lifelong interest in experimental music, Dia has invited trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith to musically interpret Whitten’s Greek Alphabet paintings on view at Dia Beacon. This rare performance by one of the foremost figures in contemporary music will take place in the museum galleries.
Wadada Leo Smith is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. For five decades he has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Smith’s notational system for improvisation in an ensemble context, which he calls Ankhrasmation, has been critical to his music and work as an educator and ensemble leader. His music philosophy is detailed in his book notes (8 pieces),source a new world music: creative music, first published in 1973. From 1994–2013, Smith was on the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Santa Clarita, where he was the director of the African American Improvisational Music program. He earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. Smith’s honors include the Mohn Career Achievement Award for Made in L.A. 2016 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and a Doris Duke Artist Award (2016); he was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (2013). In 2017 DownBeat magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll placed him first in the categories of Jazz Artist, Trumpet, and Jazz Album (America’s National Parks).
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