The title's prose speaks of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's poetic leanings. A rising jazz star who's received a lion's share of awards and accolades yet is not resting on past laurels, he continues to search for artistic expression with in-demand chops and inventive writing that has illuminated the recordings of other artists and his own band since 2008's debut Prelude: to Cora (Fresh Sound New Talent).
the imagined savior is far easier to paint is a fresh page in Akinmusire's evolving narrative, this time integrating progressive music with songs and lyrics contributed by a number of today's brightest vocalists. Becca Stevens provides abstract musings in "Our Basement" and Theo Bleckmann offers an affecting declaration of the heart in "Asiam" as Akinmusire's full bodied horn expresses a range of moods from blustery flights to animated screeches and slurs in the "Ceaseless Inexhaustable Child" with Cold Specks singer Al Spx articulating her unforgettable style of bittersweet lyrics.
A stellar quintet that includes Akinmusire's longtime associate saxophonist Walter Smith III and guest guitarist Charles Altura}, the band is on top of its game, burning bright in complex yet melodic numbers such as "As We Fight" and "Bubbles" or swinging through turbulence in the episodic 16 minute live track "Richard." The release also unveils a gorgeous surprise in "The Beauty of Dissolving Portraits" which spotlights the trumpeter and the Osso String Quartet resulting in a piece that breathes multiple disciplines and highlights the trumpeter's writing acumen. "inflatedbyspinning" is another composition featuring string quartet and even though the trumpeter doesn't perform on the piece, it declares his prowess as a composer.
Like his previous releases, Akinmusire's seeks to link themes and moods into a listening experience that move beyond the typecast set of up-tempo tracks and slower ballads. "Rollcall for Those Absent" is similar to "My Name is Oscar" from his 2011 Blue Note debut When the Heart Emerges Glistening as it provides social commentary, this time through a child's reading of the names of young people killed from gunfire(including Trayvon Martin) while Akinmusire quietly accompanies on keyboards. This is another significant release from one of music's brightest.
Track Listing: Marie Christie; As We Fight (willie penrose); Our Basement (ed);
Vartha; Memo (g. learson); The Beauty of Dissolving Portraits; Asiam
Ceaseless Inexhaustible Child (cyntoia brown); Rollcall for Those
Absent; J.E. Nilmah (Ecclesiastes 6:10); inflatedbyspinning; Richard
Personnel: Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet, Juno Keyboard; Walter Smith: tenor sax;
Sam Harris: piano, Mellowtron; Harish Raghavan: bass; Justin Brown:
drums; Charles Altura: guitar (2, 4, 5, 8, 11) ;
Becca Stevens: vocals (3); Maria Im: violin (3, 6, 12); Brooke
Quiggens Saulnier: violin (3, 6, 12); Kallie Ciechomsky: viola (3, 6,
12); Maria Bella Jeffers: cello (3, 6, 12); Elena Penderhughes: flute
(6); Theo Bleckmann: vocals + effects (7); Al Spx: vocals (9); Muna
Blake: reading (10).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.