Earlier that day Smith had been invited to participate in a Dialogic Workshop at the behest of professor-at-large Dr. Norman Cornett at the church of St John the Evangelist in Montreal. Cornett, a very intense, passionate man has been hosting these unique symposiums for 20 years, previously inviting such as David Murray, Oliver Jones, Branford Marsalis, Stanley Cowell, Tord Gustavsen, Marianne Trudel and also Bley and Iyer to discuss the creative process with a bent toward the philosophical/spiritual.
As well as being incredibly generous with his time, the substantial research behind Smith’s compositional strategies and his sagacious command of the right, never completely illusive, language to describe and respond to questions about his process led to a gripping conversation which touched upon Scott Joplin, Baby Dodds, Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree Jnr, Marxist Black Panther affiliate and author Angela Davis, Lyndon Johnson, Bob Marley, Mahalia Jackson – even the gravity of Jupiter.
Unidentified blindfolded listeners had submitted categorised responses to tracks from A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke which Cornett ran down. In his words, “the dialogic jazz workshops constitute an endeavor in what I term ‘community education’ whereby the public, i.e. ordinary people may engage in person with the foremost jazz musicians… to demythologize jazz for the average individual.” At least three people ended up in tears due to the intensity of the discussion, including the beneficent Smith himself.
– Michael Jackson, Jazzwise Magazine
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