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).
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.