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Ambrose Akinmusire: The imagined savior is far easier to paint

Mark F. Turner By

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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 (joan); Bubbles; Ceaseless Inexhaustible Child (cyntoia brown); Rollcall for Those Absent; J.E. Nilmah (Ecclesiastes 6:10); inflatedbyspinning; Richard (conduit).

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).

Title: The imagined savior is far easier to paint | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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