America's National Parks

Album Review of America's National Parks by Wadada Leo Smith.

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America's National Parks

Wadada Leo Smith

America's National Parks by Wadada Leo Smith

Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Cuneiform Records
Genre(s): Jazz, Avant-Garde, Modern Creative, Modern Composition, Avant-Garde Jazz, Modern Free

77 Music Critic Score
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America's National Parks - Very Good, Based on 6 Critics

AllMusic - 80
Based on rating 8/10

A seven-note riff from Lindberg introduces "New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1918" (the year it was founded as a French colony). While the bassist's pattern makes use of the blues, this is not an uptempo celebration of NOLA's musical heritage. Instead, it takes the myth of Buddy Bolden -- an unrecorded yet legendary jazz trumpet player -- as its muse.

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Pitchfork - 79
Based on rating 7.9/10

Though trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is a leading maestro of abstraction, he loves a straightforward concept as much as anyone else. Over the last decade, he’s composed The Great Lakes Suites, as well as the expansive Civil Rights-themed project Ten Freedom Summers (which drew from avant-jazz and modern-classical languages). For his 2016 album with pianist Vijay Iyer, Smith wrote a tribute to the African American contralto Marian Anderson.

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Exclaim - 70
Based on rating 7/10

When a conceptual theme is applied to a musical work, regardless of genre, it puts a focus of intent that affects the composer and performers but the listener as well. It's worked very well for the Who (Tommy), Sonny Rollins (Freedom Suite), Diamanda Galas (Defixiones: Will and Testament) and many others. Wadada Smith's focus on America's National Parks is an unusual one, but quite inspired in combining the considerations, both physical and political, that have informed humanity's corralling of nature.

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The Quietus
Their review was positive

The American landscape seems engraved upon so many of our hearts and minds that it can feel a promised new world for those of us who have never even set foot upon the continent. I don't really know what Yellowstone National Park looks like in reality, whether the springs, geysers and mountains within that territory match up to the audio-visual simulations from which I feel I know it. But I do feel I know it.

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Dusted Magazine
Their review was positive

Wadada Leo Smith – America’s National Parks (Cuneiform)English classical composer Gustav Holst never left the gravitational pull of Earth in devising his epochal odes to The Planets. In a comparable gambit, trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith hasn’t physically visited all of the vistas and environments that serve as inspiration of America’s National Parks, but his compositions still seek and largely succeed in transposing their collective splendor to sound. As with earlier grand scale projects like The Great Lakes Suite and Ten Freedom Summers, Smith prefers to focus on the ideation of place and import of history rather than concrete manifestations of the same.

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The New York Times
Their review was positive

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing — in the Playlist. You can listen to this playlist on Spotify here. Like this format? Let us know at, and sign up for our Louder newsletter (coming soon!) here. Terse and tense is Pusha T’s sweet spot — he is a refined snarler, and thrives on production that’s slim and brutal.

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