Recorded in 1997, Wadada Leo Smith's N'da Kulture has created a music that transcends all forms by integrating many of them into an amorphous yet deeply moving whole. This sextet, which uses Eastern and Western instruments, authors into being a kind of folk music for the emerging century, one that relies deeply on poetry, improvisation, subtleties in tone, timbre, and rhythm. The six pieces here reflect Smith's ongoing concern with marrying the vanguard jazz tradition he comes from to the history of the ages in Eastern music, particularly the music of Asia. Glenn Horiuchi plays piano and shiamsen, Hakumi Makino Smith reads poetry, William Roper plays tuba, David Philipson plays bansuri and tambura, and Sonship Theus plays drums. All of the works here segue into others, shimmering along with spatial reflections and subtle tonal interaction that relies on the execution of sound as sound rather than as a series of notes to be correctly played in a composition. As a result, soundclashes become sonant washes of envelopment, traces of ghost musics playing in trance and tapestry. There is no one body to this music because it comes from an emptiness, an interconnectedness of approach, technique, conical shape and sound; they sing a resounding yes to the future.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek