Live recordings at the venerable Village Vanguard are immediately part of a storied tradition. Fully aware of the spirit of the place, trumpeter/composer Ambrose Akinmusire brought his longtime quartet with pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brownbut he took the unusual step of performing all new, original compositions. This is his third Blue Note album as a leader, following When the Heart Emerges Glistening (2011) and the imagined savior is far easier to paint (2014). He also made a notable recent sideman appearance on Wolfgang Muthspiel's Rising Grace (ECM, 2016). The program is full of contrasts. "Maurice & Michael (sorry I didn't say hello)" opens the set with a repeated rhythmic pulse from the bass and drums, expanding into a group exploration. "Moment in between the rest (to curve an ache)" is a slow, reflective trumpet soliloquy. Akinmusire exploits the full range of trumpet sound, including vocal moans and cries. "Brooklyn (ODB)" begins with an unaccompanied piano introduction which builds to the band entrancethe full theme is not stated until the end, a reversal of the normal process of musical development. "Trumpet Sketch (milky pete)" jumps off from a brief trumpet idea, but it is actually the longest selection in the program at just over fourteen minutes. It's some of the freest sounding playing on the album, with an especially energetic, somewhat "out" piano solo. Harris gets the spotlight again on "Piano Sketch (Sam intro)" which he plays unaccompanied. Raghavan is similarly featured on "Condor (Harish intro)." There is no classic drum solo, but Brown is featured playing over the repeated ostinato pattern on closer "Umteyo." It's a spirited conclusion to a rich, varied double disc set of music. Akinmusire makes a strong impression here as trumpeter and band leader. His adventurous band is comfortable following wherever he leads, while also making notable contributions when given the spotlight. I look forward to hearing more from them.
Track Listing: DISC 1
1. Maurice & Michael (sorry I didn't say hello)
3. Moment in between the rest (to curve an ache)
4. Brooklyn (ODB)
5. A song to exale to (diver song)
6. Purple (Intermezzo)
7. Trumpet Sketch (milky pete)
1. Taymoor's World
2. First Page (Shabnam’s poem)
3. H.A.M.S. (in the spirit of honesty)
4. Piano Sketch (Sam Intro)
5. Piano Sketch (beyond enclosure)
6. Condor (Harish Intro)
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