Ambrose Akinmusire

Sept. 1 - 2012

It’s not as though Ambrose Akinmusire has come out of nowhere. The 30-year-old Oakland, Cal., native did win the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. But the swiftness with which this wonderfully understated trumpeter joined jazz’s “A” ranks in the past year was still mighty impressive. His 2011 Blue Note debut, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, which took first place in the national Jazz Critics’ Poll, is still generating a major buzz.

Akinmusire is not one of those up-and-comers who tries to overwhelm you with his solos. He has a “bracing original style,” wrote New York Times critic Nate Chinen, that draws you in with its “shadowy tone, sure attack and surprising turns of phrase.” As surprising as the music he generates can be, it has a comforting familiarity. Its innovative jazz without airs. For that, a lot of credit goes to the naturalness and closeness of his working band, including tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown.

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