From the very early days of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians founded in Chicago in 1965) its members were influenced by classical/composed music as much as by jazz/improvisational.Muhai Richard Abrams,Roscoe Mitchell and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith are all renowned authors of solid composed works, many of which are recorded.
"Occupy The World" is Leo's monumental two-CD conceptual album, dedicated to political tension and activism in the modern world. Smith developed his own non-metric compositional theory that he uses in his music: none of the five long (between 15 and 33 minutes) compositions have a continued theme, all the music is kind of liquid kinematic installation of rhythmic and melodic multi-layers, but it has nothing in common with esoteric/new age amorphous viscosity. Each musical layer, even more, each small element, is engineered in details. There are a lot of small spaces where each musician has some space for improvisation, so the music doesn't sound too fixed or cemented, but at the same time, there are not even minimal traces of chaos.
For listeners not very familiar with Smith's musical theories, this hour-and-half long double album sounds like something that is very close, and yet alternative at the same time, to a more traditional classical opus. These dramatic and often bombastic compositions also contains precisely included distortions and rhythmical structures that are more African than European, but all in all, this music sounds as if you're in an Opera House, not in a jazz club.
For this project, Smith and his regular collaborator bassist John Lindberg, co-operate with a leading Finnish progressive jazz orchestra (22-piece collective with harpist Iro Haarla, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, Danish drummer Stefan Passborg, sax player Mikko Innanen on board among others). Not all the members play on every composition, Smith uses smaller sub-collectives depending on his vision and needs. Not all the compositions are really new - for example, "The Bell - 2" was originally written by Smith for the late 60s Anthony Braxton album, "3 Compositions of New Jazz".
Not an easy listen and probably even more controversial because of it being a cross-genre work, it represents one of the most ambitious and monumental pieces of music of the last couple years, not many artists around have the inspiration and faith required to still be working in this field. Wadada Leo Smith is one of the few living legends, who even in his 70s, is looking ahead.