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John Lindberg and Leo Smith at Kerrytown Concert House


Bassist John Lindberg is back in Michigan for a spell and I had the fortune to hear him at the Kerrytown Concert House on January 13. Lindberg, a Detroit native, invited trumpeter Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith from New York to join him in these intimate surroundings. The two first met through their association with the innovative saxophonist Anthony Braxton. Lindberg told us that "Leo taught me how to use space in music when I first got to New York [in the late 1970s]."

Smith's distinctive approach to the trumpet does indeed use a lot of silences and it was particularly evident on his two solo pieces for the evening. On the duo pieces Smith and Lindberg worked expertly together, with Lindberg switching from repetitive rhythmic patterns to melodic commentary. Lindberg is, of course, a consummate small group player, as one might guess from knowing that he has been a long-time member of the String Trio of New York. One of his solo pieces, "Common Goal," was a real tour de force. Lindberg developed increased tension as he switched between pizzicato and arco playing. In contrast, his second solo piece, "Sophie's Lullaby," was a pretty theme with variations. The duo's last piece was an homage to Mingus and was a swinging finale to a wonderful night of music.

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