Qasim Naqvi, Wadada Leo Smith & Andrew Cyrille - Two Centuries

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The album was instigated by Red Hook Records founder Sun Chung (who at the time was Cyrille’s producer for ECM Records) and Naqvi, who recalls; “Sun wanted to talk about a possible album project with Andrew and myself on synthesizers. This was an incredible proposition, as Andrew was one of my first professors at the New School back in the 90s and I’ve idolised his playing since. Blending his approach on the drums with mine on a modular synthesizer felt like an unprecedented musical opportunity. We also discussed the possibility of a third member and Wadada instantly came to mind. It was especially meaningful because Wadada was also a teacher of mine, in the early noughties when I was a graduate student at CalArts. Beyond their wisdom as musicians, the idea of creating something with two teachers who’s spanned the end of one century and the beginning of another felt important.”

 Traditional and electronic instruments have combined in jazz countless times, but ‘Two Centuries’ stands out as unique and fresh. Each of the trio gels with one another, but also stands out independently, with three very distinct voices cutting through un-obstructed. Cyrille and Smith’s ability to harmonize with what are, at points, abstract, alien electronic sounds, is testament to both their innate musicianship and maintained desire to innovate – something which was mindfully facilitated by Naqvi. “They’re both such masters of sensitivity and restraint and so compositional in how they improvise. I wanted to create a system on the synthesizer that complemented these strengths. The modular, conversely, can be so kaleidoscopic in its expression. It’s also a little unstable in its tuning and mechanics. With that said, the machine’s instabilities help make it more human. It provided some fallibility and made things unpredictable and ultimately organic within this trio context.” He adds, “Andrew and Wadada have lived such long and creative lives and I wanted this album to embrace where they’re at now. It would have been a grave mistake to lay some stuff on them that wasn’t intrinsic to them at this moment”. When writing the music, Naqvi hoped to craft lines that were uncomplicated, giving each instrument ample space. Some of the melodies were notated, while others improvised.

 Naqvi’s electronics, Smith’s trumpet and Cyrille’s percussion acquiesce with finesse in a perfect simpatico balance of accommodating and complimentary interplay. The trio balance bursts of energy with delicate stillness to create a feeling of meditation. Nuanced, textural, subtle yet devastatingly affective as well as sensitive and contemplative where appropriate, they also deliver bursts of incredible energy and impact; navigating a path between expressions of dismay and meditative healing resolutions – both a protest and paean for harmony.



SKU 5391538080035
Barcode # 5391538080035
Brand Red Hook Records

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