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OPTION: LaDonna Smith Solo & Discussion

  • ESS 5925 North Ravenswood Avenue Chicago, IL, 60660 United States (map)
OPTION: LaDonna Smith Solo & Discussion

October 1, 2018

Doors At 7. Music At 7:30pm

Violinist, violist and vocalist LaDonna Smith makes a rare visit to Chicago where she'll perform a set of solo music. A discussion about her work follows.

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LADONNA SMITH is a violinist, violist, vocalist and musical impresario, pioneering the field of free improvisation in America as an art form capable of ecstatic and explosive emotions, clarity, lyricism and raw human expression.

Since 1973, from her first collaborations with her duo partner, Davey Williams, the TRANS album, a collective of five from Tuscaloosa marked the beginnings of TransMuseq Records, producing 9 LP's and 10 CD's to date pm tje TransMuseq label, including solos, featured collaborations, and of course the Trans Duo.

As a soloist, and with the TRANS duo, Davey Williams, she has performed at many of the seminal improvisation and New Music festivals around the USA, Canada and Europe including:  "Improvising Across Borders," "New Music America" (NY), Subtropics (Miami), "Ear it Live, "I Scream", Seattle Improv Festivals, "Birmingham Improv", the Guelph International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, and "Musique Actuelle" Festivals in Canada , New Music Across America (NM), High Zero, "Festival of Women Improvisers" (Chicago), Incus, Claxton (NL), Klang & Drang (DM), Ictus, Logos, FMP, UND, Moers, and Taktlos Festivals, Jyderup, and countless cities & venues across Canada, Britain, Europe and USA.

In 1980, she was a founding board member of the Improvisor’s Network (IN), headquartered in NYC with the intent of networking and documenting the circuit of improvisational activity in the USA. Thus, the journal dedicated solely to the philosophy and genre free improvisation, the improvisor, was born. From the IN newsletter in 1980, it evolved to an international magazine journal that featured articles and reviews of the obscure "scene" of second generation improvisors in the USA and around the world. From the 1990's it went online and currently exists in an archival edition on the web at The year 2010 marked the 30 year anniversary of the improvisor, celebrated by a month-long festival which took place in 5 American cities.

Dedicated to the movement of music in the moment, she served on the active Board of ISIM (International Society of Improvised Music).  She performs a highly personal solo style of instant composition and extended techniques, and she enjoys musical collaborations with fellow improvisers wherever she goes, and has performed hundreds of concerts in the U.S.A. Canada, Europe, China, Japan and India. Likewise, she has produced many festivals and concerts in her home territory of Birmingham, Alabama serving as a kind of "outpost" for improvised music in the deep South.  

LaDonna Smith has performed with many world class improvisers, including Andrea Centazzo, Anthony Braxton, John Russell, Peter Cusak, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Tony Wren, Peter Kowald, Steve Beresford, Alexander Frangenheim, Jeffry Morgan, Henry Kaiser, John Zorn, Hal Rammel, Annie Gosfield, Shaking Ray Levis, Anne LeBaron, Jill Burton, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Wally Shoup, Ut Gret, Gino Robair, and Killick with notable current CD releases with collaborators  Misha Feigin, Dave Liebman, David Sait, Susan Alcorn, Andrew Dewar, Akira Sakata, and Michael Evans.

Her discography includes numerous recordings, CD’s and  LP's on the TransMuseq Records label, collaborations with Anne LeBaron, Andrea Centazzo, Davey Williams, Misha Feigin, Michael Evans, Susan Alcorn, Gunter Christmann, Torsten Muller, and Dave Liebman, and she is recorded in collaborations on other music labels including Table of the Elements, Leo Records, Ictus, Meniscus, Ishtar, Tzadik, aPPRISe, Rastacan, the Unheard Music Series, Einstein Records, Parachute, and Say Day-Bew.

She especially loves the topic “Improvisation as Cultural Recreation.”

Even as I practice, I see the musician as proponent of primal ritual celebration, using music, as a tool of cultural recreation.  Accepting the premise that all people have their own unique voices and expressions, translate that into a common musical gift, which can realized in all people.