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More than 50 years ago, composer and trumpet virtuoso Wadada Leo Smith started playing music in his Mississippi high school band. He started on French horn, took up the drums and mellophone and then moved onto trumpet. As for the music, he moved from concert and marching band fare to improvisational and blues. Since then, Smith's incorporated sounds from around the globe into his music, including African, Japanese, Indonesian, European and of course American.
He composed "Mbira," which takes its name from the Mbira music of the Shona culture in Zimbabwe. The song blends Shona sounds with American and traditional Chinese music and is performed by a trio he leads of the same name. The track comes off Mbira's new album, Dark Lady of the Sonnets, just out on TUM Records.
Wadada Leo Smith performs with six musical groups he leads (String Quartet, Mbira, Golden Quartet, Silver Orchestra, Golden Quintet and Organic) in honor of his 70th birthday at Roulette on Thursday and Friday nights.