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Joyce, Director of Publicity & Promotion
Cuneiform Records

Cuneiform Records
Wadada Leo Smith
on being named a
2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music Finalist
Ten Freedom Summers
his epic masterpiece on the American Civil Rights Movement

Cuneiform Records is honored
to have released
Ten Freedom Summers
worldwide on
May 22, 2012

"By selecting “Ten Freedom Summers” as a finalist among 157 entries, this jury made a clear statement that American music has ventured far beyond the noble traditions
of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
How fitting that an artist indelibly linked with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians — which has been redefining music in America for nearly half a century — should carry that message forward."
- Howard Reich, "Pulitzer finalist Wadada Leo Smith symbolizes Chicago jazz power,"
Chicago Tribune, April 15, 2013

- the Pulitzer is the most prestigious award in American music -

The 3 official 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music finalists and the winner were announced on April 15. The finalists included:
"Wadada Leo Smith for "Ten Freedom Summers," recording released May 22, 2012, an expansive jazz work that memorializes 10 key moments in the history of civil rights in America, fusing composed and improvised passages into powerful, eloquent music. (Cuneiform Records)".
The other finalists were Aaron Jay Kernis, for "Pieces of Winter Sky," and the Pulitzer Prize winner, Caroline Shaw for "Partita for 8 Voices".
[See: 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalists -]

The Pulitzer Prize is America's most distinguished award for journalism, literature, and music. Administered by Columbia University, it was established in 1917 by publisher Joseph Pulitzer to award exemplary work in journalism and literature. In 1943, a Pulitzer Prize for Music was added: "For a distinguished musical composition of significant dimension by an American that has had its first performance in the United States during the year.” [For more on the Pulitzer, see]

Despite the breadth and depth of the American musical experience and the central role of jazz ("America's classical music") within, the Pulitzer Prize for Music has been awarded only twice to a jazz artist for a musical composition.
In 1996, Wynton Marsalis won the Pulitzer for "Blood on the Fields", and in 2007 the Pulitzer prize went to Ornette Coleman, for "Sound Grammar."

However, five other jazz musicians have received posthumous Pulitzer Special Awards or Citations, including a Special Award made to Scott Joplin (1867-1917) in 1976, and Special Citations given to George Gershwin (1898-1937) in 1998, Duke Ellington (1899-1974) in 1999 (the Pulitzer Board had declined giving Ellington a Citation in 1965, during his lifetime), Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) in 2006, and John Coltrane(1926-1967) in 2007.

Ten Freedom Summers being named an official Pulitzer finalist is a watershed moment in the history of American music, and particularly avant-garde jazz and American creative music.

In his Chicago Tribune article, Howard Reich says: "Smith's “Ten Freedom Summers” significantly pushes out the definition of what can be considered Pulitzer-worthy music. ...these pieces...bristle with jazz, improvisational and European compositional techniques."

Wadada Leo Smith will be performing Ten Freedom Summers in its entirety over three nights from May 1st-3rd, 2013 at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY. The May performance will mark the East Coast premiere of this epic work, previously presented in its entirety in Los Angeles, CA and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Roulette performance will be a multi-media event featuring jazz and classical musicians and video projections: the Golden Quartet and the Pacifica Coral Reef Ensemble with original imagery by video artist Jesse Gilbert. It will also feature the world premiere of a new Wadada Leo Smith composition, commissioned by the Fromm Foundation, for the "The March on Washington D.C.: August 28, 1963".

NYC premiere of Ten Freedom Summers @
509 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(917) 267-0363

Performances (Click for event info/tickets)
May 1, 2013, 8pm - Night 1
May 2, 2013, 8pm - Night 2
May 3, 2013, 8pm - Night 3

Ticket Pricing: Adult: $20 / Members: $15
Students with ID: $15 / Seniors 65 and over: $15
Free For All Access Members


Listen to interviews by Wadada Leo Smith about Ten Freedom Summers
WBGO, taped April 6 w/ Josh Jackson: edited/official interview to be aired June 18, 2013
"RAW TAPE: Wadada Leo Smith Ten Freedom Summers," aired April 29, 2013

WNYC, with John Schaefer: May 1, 2013 9pm



“A stunning achievement, with the dramatic sweet of the trumpeter’s writing (for both a chamber orchestra and his own small group)… It merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”
- Francis Davis, Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll

“His masterpiece." - Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine 

“The veteran trumpeter’s defining statement.” - Mike Hobart, Financial Times

“The most challenging (and emotionally rewarding) release of 2012."
Bret Saunders, Denver Post

“A monumental achievement… With anthemic, roiling sounds designed to celebrate and embody the once-inextricable link between protest and music.”
- Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader 

Reviewing Ten Freedom Summers’ October 2011 live premiere at REDCAT in LA, Larry Blumenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Ten Freedom Summers was as striking a display of his expansive vision and his vitality. He still plays trumpet as he always has: with little vibrato and a tone that can be either boldly declarative or soft to the point of breaking… Mr. Smith had made his own statement through instrumental music. And it sounded complete.

Ten Freedom Summers received equal acclaim on CD. Released in May 2012 on the Cuneiform label, it earned a place as the #3 jazz record of the year in the Rhapsody Jazz Critics poll, where respected critic Francis Davis wrote: “A stunning achievement…. It merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.” National Public Radio included the CD in its Top 50 albums of 2012 and it placed eighth in the 2012 JazzTimes Critics Poll, while music criticism aggregator MetaCritic hailed it as the #1 under-the-radar album of 2012. In addition, Smith was named International Musician of the Year for 2012 by Musica Jazz Magazine and he was one of the New York City Jazz Record’s 2012 Musicians of the Year.

The work is “stirringly beautiful … an astounding aesthetic achievement,” (Michael Casper, Oxford American), “an emotional and intellectual luxury, a chance to commune with greatness,” (Josh Langhoff, Pop Matters), “the work of a lifetime by one of jazz’s true visionaries. … Triumphant and mournful, visceral and philosophical, searching, scathing and relentlessly humane, Smith’s music embraces the turbulent era’s milestones while celebrating the civil rights movement’s heroes and martyrs.” (Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery), and “his magnum opus; it belongs in jazz's canonical lexicon with Duke Ellington's Black Brown & Beige and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite.” (Thom Jurek, All Music Guide). As Stuart Broomer writes in Point of Departure: "If one had to answer quickly what work will matter most this year in American music (as if matters of mattering arose with some regularity), Wadada Leo Smith's Ten Freedom Summers would trip readily to the tongue."

To read more about Ten Freedom Summers, please see
- Wadada Leo Smith's official website
- Cuneiform Records
- Ten Freedom Summers Blog

If you would like to interview Wadada Leo Smith about his landmark work dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement, hear a digital promo of Ten Freedom Summers, or get more information about the upcoming multimedia presentations of Ten Freedom Summers in May 2013, please contact:

Director of Publicity & Promotion
Cuneiform Records
(301) 589-8894 


Ann Braithwaite
Braithwaite & Katz Communications
(781) 259-9600

To interview Steven Feigenbaum/Cuneiform Records about releasing Wadada Leo Smith's Ten Freedom Summers, please contact the label's offices.


Wadada Leo Smith, whose roots are in the Delta blues, is one of the most boldly original figures in American jazz and creative contemporary music, and one of the great trumpet players of our time. Born and raised in Leland, Mississippi, Smith start playing trumpet in R&B bands, encouraged by his stepfather, blues guitarist Alex Wallace. By the mid 1960s, he had gravitated to Chicago’s burgeoning avant-garde jazz community where he was part of the first generation of musicians to come out of Chicago’s AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Music). Smith formed the Creative Construction Company together with saxophonist Anthony Braxton and violinist Leroy Jenkins and collaborated with a dazzling cast of fellow visionaries including Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Davis and Steve McCall. Early in his career, Smith invented an original music notational system called Anhkrasmation, which was radical for its time and remains the physical and philosophical foundation of his oeuvre. 

Since the early 1970s, Smith has performed and recorded mainly with his own groups. He currently leads four principal ensembles: Mbira, a trio with pipa player Min Xiao-Fen and drummer Pheeroan akLaff; the Golden Quartet, his highly celebrated group that now includes Anthony Davis, John Lindberg and Pheeroan akLaff; Organic, a larger ensemble that utilizes instrumentation consisting primarily of electric string instruments; and the Silver Orchestra, which explores Smith’s music for large ensemble. He has released nearly 50 albums under either his own or his bands’ names on ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo, Intakt and Cuneiform, among others. In addition to the 4-CD Ten Freedom Summers, he also recently released Ancestors, a duo CD with Louis Moholo-Moholo on the TUM label.

Smith has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Chamber Music America with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the FONT (Festival of New Trumpet Music) Award of Recognition, Southwest Chamber Music funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the MAP Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. An esteemed educator and music theorist, Smith has been on faculty since 1993 at Cal Arts, where he is director of the African American Improvisational Music Program and has profoundly influenced several generations of artists. 

Wadada Leo Smith
Ten Freedom Summers
Genre: Jazz / Classical / Creative Music
Format: 4-CD Box Set / DIGITAL
Release Date: May 22, 2012

"Martin Luther King Jr." (mp3)
@SoundCloud /
@Bandcamp / @YouTube


"File this alongside iconic consciousness-raising jazz such as John Coltrane's Alabama and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite. Another classic of the genre is born." -BBC

rating = 99% out of 100

"Ten Freedom Summers is one of my life's defining works." - Wadada Leo Smith

"...Ten Freedom Summers is an encounter with music as much as it is a statement about, and analysis of, history. ...Ten Freedom Summers is his magnum opus; it belongs in jazz's canonical lexicon with Duke Ellington's Black Brown & Beige and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite."
-All Music Guide/Rovi


NPR Music's "50 Favorite Albums Of 2012"

PopMatters: "The 75 Best Albums of 2012"

[TOP 20 @ #1 Album of Year]

LAPRESSE.CA/Alain Brunet

THE GUARDIAN/Ben Beaumont-Thomas

Délire actuel/Monsieur Délire


OTRO JAZZ/Pedro Cesar Beas



DUSTED/Otis Hart

JAZZ JOURNAL [@#3 Album of Year]

GAPPLEGATE MUSIC REVIEW/Grego Edwards [Record of the Year]

THE AWL/Seth Colter Walls [@ #1]

DUSTED/Derek Taylor

OPEN SKY JAZZ/Willard Jenkins & Suzan Jenkins

[@ #3 Album of Year]

ALL MUSIC GUIDE: "Favorite Jazz Albums of 2012"

[@ #1 Album of Year]

[@ #1 Album of Year]

THE DENVER POST/ Bret Saunders
[@ #1 Album of Year]





DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY/Bruce Gallanter "Top 50 Instrumental CD Releases of 2012" [@ #1 Album of Year]

JAZZ TIMES/ Larry Appelbaum, Brent Burton, Andrew Gilbert, Lyn Horton[@#1], Aidan Levy, Giovanni Russonello[@#2], George Varga, Michael J. West, Joe Woodard[@#1]

Cuneiform Records Publicity & Promotion (director, press & foreign radio)

tel. 301-589-8894 
P.O. Box 8427
Silver Spring, MD 20907-842
[Washington, D.C.]

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