Wadada Leo Smith has been active in the creative contemporary music world for over 30 years and in 2013 was one of the three Finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. A trumpet player, multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser, his original theory of jazz and world music has been significant in his musical development as an artist and educator.
Born in Leland, Miss., Smith's early musical life began in high school concert and marching bands. At the age of 13, he became immersed in the Delta Blues and improvisational music traditions. As an improvisor-composer, Smith has studied a variety of music cultures (African, Japanese, Indonesian, European and American) and to fully express this music, he has developed an original theory and notation system for jazz and world music which he calls Ankhrasmation.
Some of the artists Smith has performed with are Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Richard Teitelbaum, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrill, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Carla Bley, David Murray, Don Cherry, Jeanne Lee, Milton Campbell, Henry Brant, Richard Davis, Tadao Sawai, Ed Blackwell, Sabu Toyozumi, Peter Kowald, Kazuko Shiraishi, Han Bennink, Misja Mengelberg, Marion Brown, Kazutoki Umezu, Kosei Yamamoto, Charlie Haden, Kang Tae Hwan, Kim Dae Hwan and Tom Buckner, among many others.