Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019

Jazz News

June 10th 2021: Wadada Leo Smith world premiere presented by Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is to present the world premiere of "Delta Blues", a new work by composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Streaming for 30 days from June 10th via CSOtv.

We have received the following press release;

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association presents world premiere of new work by legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith

Delta Blues is part of CSO Sessions Episode 21: Cult of Electromagnetic Connectivity, available on CSOtv starting Thursday, June 10

The event is part of Smith’s year-long celebration of his 80th birthday.


Groundbreaking composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith celebrates his 80th birthday with a year of special events including the world premiere of a new work performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians. Delta Blues for violin, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, and piano will be featured in CSO Sessions Episode 21: Cult of Electromagnetic Connectivity, available for streaming 30 days (through July 9) beginning on Thursday, June 10 at Access to the episode is $15. More information is available here, , at the CSOtv Guide or by calling 312-294-3000.

CSO Sessions is a digital series of on-demand, high-definition video recordings of small ensemble performances by Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians, filmed in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center and released on CSOtv. Curated by CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Missy Mazzoli, the dynamic program also features a premiere by award-winning composer and flutist Nicole Mitchell as well as Mazzoli’s Dark with Excessive Bright, a concerto that refracts Baroque influences through a modern lens.

Smith’s year-long celebration of his 80th birthday includes the release of six major projects on TUM Records, two world premieres, inclusion in a film and concerts and residencies at Harvard, The New School, Other Minds Festival and more.


About Wadada Leo Smith

Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.”

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work.  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.” In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion.

Smith regularly earns multiple spots on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. In 2017 he topped three categories: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he has earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes Critics Poll as Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.

In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.

Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His most recent recording is 2019’s Rosa Parks: Pure Love, an Oratorio of Seven Songs. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”  Writing about Smith’s 2017 album Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk in the New York Review of Books, Adam Shatz notes: “For all the minimalism of his sound, Smith has turned out to be a maximalist in his ambitions, evolving into one of our most powerful storytellers, an heir to American chroniclers like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman.”