CHAMPAIGN — Two musicians with a long practice in the musical avant-garde will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, C, as part of Jason Finkelman's Sudden Sound Concert Series.
Douglas R. Ewart and Wadada Leo Smith will perform music that draws upon their work as inventive composers and master improvisers, melding sounds from the traditions of the African diaspora, Australia and Asia.
Ewart, a Minneapolis-based artist, teacher and multi-instrumentalist, performs on reeds, flutes, percussion and handcrafted instruments often made of found and obsolete materials. Smith, a trumpeter, directs the African American Improvisational Music program at the California Institute of the Arts and is the leader of Golden Quartet, Silver Orchestra and Organic.
The two first met in 1967, when they joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a collective of musicians and composers from Chicago's Black Arts movement who are dedicated to serious, original music.
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and arriving in Chicago in 1963, Ewart has cited a diverse range of influences from Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari to Australian didjeridu music and Japanese shakuhachi music.
Smith's musical voice also is stylistically broad; he's recorded and performed with Zimbabwe's Thomas Mapfumo and as a leading member of Yo Miles!, which covers the electric music of Miles Davis.
The concert was made possible in part by an artist residency for Ewart at Unit One at Allen Hall, where he will speak at 1:30 p.m. Sunday (today, Feb. 24). His talk is free and open to the public.