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Jazz - Released October 12, 2018 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
After two staggering studio albums (When the Heart Emerges Glistening in 2011 and The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint in 2014) and one brilliant live album (A Rift in Decorum in 2017), all three released on Blue Note, Ambrose Akinmusire has changed gear with a multifaceted and ambitious work that mixes jazz, string quartet, poetry and rap. The Californian trumpeter has never been a stranger to taking a step into the unknown, but Origami Harvest is without a doubt his most daring work to date. And the most mind-boggling! At his side, pianist Sam Harris, drummer Marcus Gilmore, saxophonist Walter Smith III and, rather more unexpected, the Mivos string quartet and Victor Vázquez (alias Kool A.D.), previously an MC with hip-hop outfit Das Racist. Jazz, free, classical, funk, rap, soul and spoken word all collide here. One might criticise Akinmusire for his 360° vision. This composition is bursting at the seams as it moves from free jazz to R&B before returning to contemporary music or funk. The radical nature of the project can be explained by its origins. Judd Greenstein from the New York Ecstatic Music Festival, who commissioned the work, asked the Californian for his craziest idea. “I wanted to do a project about extremes and putting things that are seemingly opposite right next to each other", Akinmusire explained . Despite everything, there is a real fluidity to Origami Harvest, the composition is a perfect mirror for the time in which we live - its contradictions, its violence, its frenetic changes of pace and style... "Origami,” said Akinmusire, “refers to the different ways black people, especially men, have to bend, whether in failure or to fit a mould. Then I had a son while writing this and I thought about these cycles repeating: Harvest." You'll need to take a little time to digest such a creative flood. In an era unused to pauses, contemplation and taking one's time, Origami Harvest is a curious case. It's a blast of fresh air which does you good even as it baffles you. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS

Jazz - Released June 9, 2017 | Blue Note (BLU)

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
The Village Vanguard is a sacred place. A sort of jazz Mecca which has borne witness to all the genre's greats. The New York club of legend is not, however, anything special in itself: its aura is more to do with the spirits that haunt the air there, rather than its architecture or its acoustics, which are actually pretty ordinary. It is this spirit which seems to have inspired Ambrose Akinmusire. With his faithful companions pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown, the Californian trumpet player has given himself over as never before for A Rift In Decorum: Live At The Village Vanguard which takes its inspiration from the mysticism which surrounds the Vanguard. "It’s like I’m being bear-hugged by the spirits in there, he explains. Especially in a time like now, it’s great to have a place that still exists in the way that it originally existed." As on his last two (studio) albums for the label Blue Note, When the Heart Emerges Glistening in 2011 and, three years later, The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint, Akinmusire's compositions blossom with beauty and complexity. The trumpeter dares to take detours, shimmering like a stream. For this live album, the quartet takes on fourteen new compositions whose richness is maddening. And every theme, like every improvisation; every exchange, like every silence, gives way to an instant of grace... The 2007 Laureate of the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, Ambrose Akinmusire also gives notice that a jazz trumpeter in 2017 isn't limited to only look to the deathless Miles/Chet duo for inspiration, and that other players (Kenny Dorham?) inspire him just as much. The recording of this concert shows us the work of a real quartet: and not just the folly of an egotistical bandleader. Here is a live performance that will count for some time to come: it certainly counts for a lot already. © MZ/Qobuz

Jazz - Released June 9, 2017 | Blue Note (BLU)

Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
An expansive two-disc concert album, Ambrose Akinmusire's 2017 effort, A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard, is a sophisticated production on par with his previous studio recordings. Rather than returning to those familiar surroundings for his fourth album, Akinmusire instead brought his quartet to the Vanguard along with a set of newly penned original compositions. It's a purposeful choice that resonates with the long history of albums recorded at the storied Greenwich Village institution, most notably John Coltrane's classic, and at the time divisive, 1962 contribution, "Live" at the Village Vanguard. While Akinmusire has made a very different album from Coltrane's, A Rift in Decorum does find the trumpeter in a similarly challenging mood, balancing the highly introspective and cerebral nature of his studio albums with the unpredictable and often explosive nature of his live shows. Joining Akinmusire are his longtime bandmates pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Justin Brown. Together, they make a distinctly mutative style of jazz that straddles the line between avant-garde classical impressionism, soulful post-bop, and atonal free jazz, sometimes within the same song. The one thing Akinmusire and crew don't really do is play anything even close to resembling a jazz standard -- and in some ways, that’s not too surprising. Although he came to broader attention after winning both the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, Akinmusire has proven himself a maverick. While he's an adept performer with an approach that brings to mind luminaries like Miles Davis, Kenny Wheeler, and Don Cherry, he's more interested in expansive musical motifs and exploratory improvisations than reinforcing any tangible swing or bebop traditions. Admittedly, Akinmusire isn't a lyrical composer in the traditional sense, preferring instead nuanced chordal movements that evoke mood over memorable hooks. He also tends to save his melodic ideas for his solos, in which they tumble forth like hummingbird flight patterns. It's an evocative tendency reflected in his abundant use of bracketed song titles, such as "Maurice & Michael (Sorry I Didn't Say Hello)" and "A Song to Exhale to (Diver Song)," as if to imply a deeper narrative inspiration. A Rift in Decorum, reveals Akinmusire as a performer of extremes. Some tracks, like the opening "Maurice & Michael," or the buoyant "H.A.M.S.," find him launching into frenetic, cubist solos in which he accents his harmonically rich lines with dabs of rounded trumpet squelch, puckered vocalizations, and wide, bug-like intervals. Other times, as on the ruminate "Moment in Between the Rest" and the languid "First Page," he evokes the measured classical sound of composers like Morton Feldman and the equally nocturnal introspection of Bill Evans. Elsewhere, tracks like the flowing "Taymoor's World" find him offering both extremes, moving dancer-like between early piano-driven sections and later, wildly gesticulated group improvs. He also makes room for several solo spotlights, as on his own largely rubato "Trumpet Sketch," Harris' intro to the aptly titled "Piano Sketch," and Raghavan's moody bass feature that leads into the languorous and pensive "Condor." Ultimately, it's the tension between Akinmusire's refined compositions and his band's robust, dynamic reading of them that makes A Rift in Decorum so compelling. ~ Matt Collar

Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Blue Note (BLU)

This is an impressively rich record by a quintet which has substantially broadened its musical palette. Trumpet player and composer Ambrose Akinmusire returns with this new album, The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint, helped by guitarist Charles Altura of the OSSO String Quartet and singers Becca Stevens, Theo Bleckmann and Cold Specks. The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint makes good on the promise of, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, Akinmusire's last album, and his first for Blue Note, and which met with considerable success. On this new album, which he produced himself, Ambrose Akinmusire subtly develops his music by putting a little less emphasis on mind-boggling solos and a little more on the compositions themselves (he is the author of twelve of the album's thirteen tracks), although he always takes care to give his bandmates the space to express themselves and improvise. © PY/Qobuz

Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Fresh Sound Records


Jazz - Released September 14, 2018 | Blue Note Records


Jazz - Released May 5, 2017 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Ambrose Akinmusire in the magazine
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