Young Men With A Horn: Ambrose Akinmusire & Vitaly Golovnev


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Trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Vitaly Golovnev were the winner and semi-finalist, respectively, in the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. On these debut albums as leaders, they reveal ambitions that go beyond expressing trumpet prowess, which they both have, to personal conceptions as composers and bandleaders.

On that score, the two trumpeters' paths diverge: Golovnev staying firmly in the lineage of hard bop, bravura players, while Akinmusire takes a more introverted, exploratory road.

Ambrose Akinmusire
Fresh Sound-New Talent

Prelude is almost five minutes into its third track before Akinmusire takes his first solo and his trumpet only dominates on three of the album's 10 tracks. Yet he is an unmistakable presence in the music, as conceptualizing composer and/or arranger. His ensemble approach is reminiscent of saxophonist Wayne Shorter, as are some of his compositions. They favor a collective sound, one that can be delicately diaphanous or teemingly forceful.

An eerie electric piano and vibes waft through "Dreams of the Manbahsniere," where the trumpet and tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, plus the wordless vocals of Junko Watanabe, are woven into the mix and the only solo to emerge is from Aaron Parks' piano. "Aroca," a piece based on intervals floats, like one of Shorter's more evocative ballads while "Ruby," introduced by a warm a cappella trumpet meditation, builds as a power ballad, with a billowing trumpet solo. There's cinematic scope and real drama in "M.I.S.T.A.G.," a reaction to the film Hotel Rwanda. Akinmusire employs a variety of tones and strategies in his solos to serve the specific concepts, but the two tracks with Parks—the pianist's "Trapped in a Dream" with bass and drums and the duet on Benny Golson's "Stablemates"—are arresting examples of the leader's trumpet technique, imagination and lyricism.

Vitaly Golovnev
To Whom It May Concern

To Whom It May Concern is firmly in the tradition of hard bop, right down to the lineup of trumpet, tenor sax (Jake Saslow), piano (Miki Hayama), bass (Boris Kozlov) and drums (Jason Brown). Golovnev follows in the extrovert, brash trumpeter style of such hard boppers as Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard but he's clever enough and original enough not to mimic his influences, piquantly personalizing his solos.

Golovnev is also an engaging, creative composer who adds quirky twists and turns to his basically hard bop tunes. "Some Kind of Blues," with its extended form and suggestions of fugue, has a Charles Mingus vibe while "Miki's Trick"—the trick being there's no Miki (the pianist) at all—has a staccato melody like Monk's "Evidence". "Elegy" is a ballad with frothy effervescence and "Pretty Far" is hard bop with an in-the-pocket swing groove.

Both players should be major trumpet voices in jazz in this new century.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Dreams of the Manbahsniese; Vibe Solo Intro; Aroca; HumSong (SkidRow Anthem); M.I.S.T.A.G. (My Inappropriate Soundtrack to a Genocide); Trumpet Intro/Dedication to Ruby; Ruby; Ghost Ship; Dingmandingo; Stablemates.

Personnel: Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Aaron Parks: piano; Chris Dingman: vibes; Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone; Joe Sanders: bass; Justin Brown: drums; Logan Richardson: alto saxophone (5, 9); Junko Watanabe: vocals (1, 5, 7).

To Whom It May Concern

Tracks: Whose Shoes?; Some Kind Of Blues; To Whom It May Concern; Never; Corner Bistro; Miki's Trick; Elegy; Waiting; Pretty Far.

Personnel: Vitaly Golovnev: trumpet; Jake Saslow: tenor sax; Miki Hayama: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Jason Brown: drums.

Visit Ambrose Akinmusire and Vitaly Golovnev on the web.


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