Smith and Myers review | John Fordham’s jazz album of the month

Red Hook Records
In their album Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens the two musical soulmates impressionistically reflect on John Lennon, Albert Ayler and more

In the 1960s, Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) became a beacon for artists seeking to play a new jazz that could often sound fiercely unfamiliar, but without losing the tradition’s communal vivacity – “joyous and pugnacious” was the Guardian’s description of a show celebrating the association in 2015. AACM nurtured avant-jazz stars including Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill and the adventurous yet ever-lyrical trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, and gospel-to-free-jazz pianist and organist Amina Claudine Myers.

Longtime ensemble colleagues now in their 80s, Smith and Myers have belatedly become a duo for album this elegiac homage to New York’s Central Park, whose site housed, in the 19th century, a community of freed African Americans. Smith told the Guardian in a 2012 interview that he aims to catch the psychological impressions locations make on him, rather than trying to paint sound-pictures, and Myers is a sensitive soulmate for that.

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