Ambrose Akinmusire

There are a number of musicians out there who are positively impacting jazz music. Their very presence reminds listeners that America’s music is far from dead, and their sonic creativity is pushing the bounds of the music into places it never dreamed of being.emmanuel-garcia-uvm-Ambrose_Akinmusire_2011

In the next few posts, we’ll be introducing readers to contemporary musicians they ought to know. Of course, there may be some bias towards trumpeters, but we’ll get to other players, too!

First up is Ambrose Akinmusire. The Oakland native has been recognized as one of the most talented and promising trumpeters of his generation. Among his accolades are being the winner of the Thelonious Monk Int’l Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition.

Akinmusire’s professional experience dates back to his days in high school, when he was hired as a band member for saxophonist Steve Coleman. Akinmusire also studied at the Manhattan School of Music and earned a Master’s Degree from USC.

After his schooling, his career really took off. He moved to New York, and began playing with a number of notable musicians including Esperanza Spalding, Vijay Iyer, and most recently, Kendrick Lamar.

In his three studio albums (not counting those where he is a sideman), you can easily pick out Akinmusire’s contemplative tone. It’s not what you’d describe as “angry”, but it is absent the bright tone many have come to expect from popular trumpeters. During his solos, it sometimes sounds as if he is playing just beneath a glass ceiling. He’ll take you to the edge, but rarely breakthrough. This is particularly evident on “The Beauty of Dissolving Portraits”, from his most recent studio album The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint.

In this particular piece, the band creates a tension that only amplifies this feeling.

Other times, he’ll delight in manipulating sound and allow it to lapse into frantic dialogue between bandmates, like in “The Walls of Lechuguilla” from When the Heart Emerges

He’s only in his mid-30’s, and will be sticking around for some time!

from Emmanuel Garcia


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