Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

July/August 2013: Jon Gordon

Ambrose Akinmusire

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In 2007, Ambrose Akinmusire won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo as well as the Thelonious Monk International Jazz competitions. He also released his debut recording, Prelude…To Cora. It was clear the world was being introduced to a major new talent.

A native Californian, Akinmusire studied at the Manhattan School, then returned to the west coast, receiving a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California and attending the Thelonious Monk Institute. He is now living in New York, and working with the likes of Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, and Jason Moran. Not only has he performed and recorded with the who’s who of jazz musicians globally and locally, but he is also finding time to pass on the tradition. This spring, he was on faculty at the Banff Centre, educating the next batch of aspiring jazz musicians.

In 2011, he released his second album, As the Heart Emerges Glistening, on the Blue Note label. At the core of his playing, Akinmusire is a technical master of the trumpet and makes it especially apparent on the first track, “Confessions to my Unborn Daughter.” His tone is pure and unique with hints of history’s great trumpeters, his compositions and improvisation are harmonically and rhythmically intricate, and the stories he tells throughout the record are dark, but full of joy.

Accompanying Akinmusire on this emotional musical journey are tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown. Downbeat said of the album, “Clearly something very special and personal is at work here, a vision of jazz that’s bigger than camps, broader and more intellectually restless than blowing sessions.”

Ambrose Akinmusire is driving this music in new directions. As the president of the Blue Note label told him, “You will be a very big part of the future of this art form that we call jazz.”

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