Ambrose Akinmusire – on the tender spot of every calloused moment

  1. Tide of Hyacinth
  2. Yessss
  3. Cynical sideliners
  4. Roscoe (consider the simultaneous)
  5. An Interlude (that get‘ more intense)
  6. reset (quiet victories&celebrated defeats)
  7. Moon (the return amplifies the unity)
  8. 4623
  9. Roy
  10. Blues (We measure the heart with a fist)
  11. Hooded procession (read the names outloud)

Ambrose Akinmusire – Trumpet & Rhodes (3, 11) / Harish Raghavan – Upright Bass
Jesus Diaz – Percussion, Vocalist / Justin Brown – Drums / Sam Harris – Piano, Synthesizer

Genevieve Artadi – Vocalist (3)

 

All tracks composed by Ambrose Akinmusire, lyrics on track 3 by Genevieve Artadi
Produced by Ambrose Akinmusire

Neben der Pflege seines fulminanten Kataloges und neuen Produktionen mit Legenden wie Wayne Shorter und Charles Lloyd hat sich das Blue-Note-Label auch die Arbeit mit jüngeren Jazz-Talenten auf die Fahnen geschrieben, die das Zeug dazu haben, bald selber zu den ganz Großen des Genres zu gehören. Saxophonist Marcus Strickland, Pianist James Francies, Schlagzeuger Kendrick Scott und Vibraphonist Joel Ross überzeugen mit aktuellen Alben und könnten eigentlich schon jetzt eine „Blue-Note-Supergroup“ bilden.

Ambrose Akinmusire ist der Trompeter im Stall der jungen Blue-Note-Löwen und für viele einer der zur Zeit wichtigsten jungen Jazzmusiker überhaupt. Obwohl ihm musikalische Trends nicht fremd sind (so war er z.B. auf Kendrick Lamars Album “To Pimp a Butterfly“ und Esperanza Spaldings „Esperenza“ zu hören), gehört er mit seinem akustischen Ensemble zur traditionellen Modern-Jazz-Schule. Seine hochindividuelle Spielweise und Talent für komplexe, abstrakte Melodien kennzeichnen Akinmusire als einmalige Jazzpersönlichkeit, hinzu kommt die Tatsache, dass er mit seiner Musik klare gesellschaftliche und politische Statements verbindet. Der Hintergrund vieler seiner Songs sind gesellschaftliche Spaltung und Rassismus. Mit dem Titel „Roy“ ist auf seinem fünften Blue-Note-Album aber auch ein bewegender Abschied von seinem Freund und Mentor Roy Hargrove enthalten, der im November letzten Jahres verstarb.

BIOGRAFIE

Ambrose Akinmusire wurde am 1. Mai 1982 geboren, hat nigerianische Eltern und wuchs in North Oakland auf. Frühe Mentoren waren der Trompeter Robert Porter und der Pianist Ed Kelly. Nach dem Besuch der Berkeley Highschool erhielt er ein Stipendium der Manhattan School of Music u.a. bei Dick Oatts und Lew Soloff. Ein Förderer in dieser Phase war Steve Coleman, dessen Band Five Elements er angehörte. Anschließend studierte er am Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance bei Terence Blanchard und Billy Childs, wo er u.a. mit Herbie Hancock und Wayne Shorter arbeitete.

2007 gewann Akinmusire den Thelonious-Monk-Wettbewerb, in der Jury saßen u.a. Terence Blanchard, Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Clark Terry und Roy Hargrove. Im selben Jahr nahm er mit Alan Pasqua auf und legte sein Debütalbum „Prelude: to Cora“ bei Fresh Sound Records vor. 2008 trat er mit Vijay Iyer auf dem Chicago Jazz Festival auf und wirkte bei Esperanza Spaldings Album „Esperenza“ mit.

2011 folgte Akinmusires Blue Note-Debüt „When the Heart Emerges Glistening“, das u.a. das von ihm vertonte Gedicht „Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto“ enthält. Neben seinem regulären Quintett wirkte auch der Pianist Jason Moran mit, der als Co-Produzent agierte. Das Downbeat-Magazin zeichnete das Album mit vier Sternen aus und lobte: „Clearly, something special and personal is at work here, a vision of jazz that is bigger than camps, broader and more intellectually restless than blowing sessions“.

2014 folgte das zweite Blue-Note-Album „the imagined savior is far easier to paint“ und 2017 das Livealbum „A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard“. 2018 wurde Akinmusires viertes Blue-Note-Album, die Studioproduktion „Origami Harvest“, vom Downbeat-Magazin mit seltenen fünf Sternen ausgezeichnet. Weitere Preise und Auszeichnungen in seiner Karriere waren bislang zwei Awards der Jazz Journalists Association als „vielversprechendes Talent“ und „Bester Trompeter“, der  Grand Prix du Disque der Akademie Charles Cros, der Downbeat Critics Poll als bester Trompeter und der Paul Acket Award des North Sea Jazz Festival.

 

INFO “ON THE TENDER SPOT OF EVERY CALLOUSED MOMENT”

 

The first note you hear on Ambrose Akinmusire’s fifth studio album “on the tender spot of every calloused moment” is his own – a somber yet vibrant tone that conveys jazz and the blues in equal measure. In years past, this wouldn’t be the case; Akinmusire is a bandleader who foregrounds collective improvisation. So to hear him take the lead on “Tide of Hyacinth” is a bold leap: Akinmusire not only asserts himself as one of the best trumpeters in the world, he’s using his voice to dissect the complexity of black life in America. Yet he isn’t trying to summon gloom, he’s unpacking it all. Through his trumpet comes the breath of a black man who’s seen the best and worst of the country, and harnesses it into 49 minutes of gorgeous, shape-shifting art.

But that isn’t surprising if you’ve followed him to this point. “on the tender spot of every calloused moment” is the latest in a rich assembly of music he’s released, each album drawn from very real emotions and instances in his life. Where 2018’s “Origami Harvest” was a study in contrasts, “on the tender spot” is a study of the blues in a contemporary context. It continues a theme first established on his first Blue Note album, 2011’s “When The Heart Emerges Glistening”: On that cover, he has short hair and a cleanly shaven face. For this one, he has locks, facial hair, and a black hooded sweatshirt. “In a way, I was thinking about this as a sequel to my first record [on the label],” Akinmusire says. “I’m returning to the landmarks in my first album.”

Akinmusire grew up in North Oakland in the 1980s, in what he has called a “very black, culturally rich” neighborhood. After living in New York for 10 years and Los Angeles for three, he moved back to his hometown in 2016 and noticed how much it had changed. It simply wasn’t the same Oakland. But it’s the same thing in historically black cities throughout the U.S.; in places like Oakland, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C., natives are being priced out of their homes due to rising rent. What’s left are new neighbors with no sense of the communities that preceded them. Akinmusire is speaking to that, to coming back home and feeling like a stranger in the place you grew up, where the newcomers see your black skin and assume you’re the one who doesn’t belong.

While “on the tender spot” scans as jazz, there’s a prevalent blues woven within the LP. It’s in the moonlit melancholy of “Yessss” and the gentle lullaby of “Cynical sideliners,” which, Akinmusire says, is a tongue-in-cheek ode to haters. Over light electric piano, vocalist Genevieve Artadi assures you it’s going to be fine – you’re the brave one; pay no attention to the naysayers. “You are you and they are they,” she sings. “You’ll be brave and they’ll be safe.” Then there’s a song like “reset (quiet victories & celebrated defeats),” a spacious and haunting procession doubling as a trumpet solo. Scant drums and piano chords fill the background; a complex sorrow permeates the mix. While creating this album, Akinmusire says he wrestled with conveying what the blues looks like in modern times: “The blues is about resilience.”

Much like his previous work, “on the tender spot” unpacks the feeling of “otherness” and what that means in a country with such a fraught racial history. In that way, it resembles “Origami Harvest” and 2014’s “the imagined savior is far easier to paint”. But where those records seethed, this one simmers; Akinmusire examines the past with pondering eyes and not a furrowed brow. “This is me trying to express the pain, beauty, and optimism of blackness,” Akinmusire says.

Indeed, “on the tender spot” navigates what it means to simply exist as a black person in America. Alongside drummer Justin Brown, pianist Sam Harris and upright bassist Harish Raghavan – bandmates for over a decade – Akinmusire delves into the internal strife of every person made to think they’re inferior. In a land where political leaders cater to the 1% and justice is reserved for fairer skin, there might be a notion to give up and make yourself smaller to fit in. Akinmusire is rebuking that notion: You don’t have to code-switch or conform to their rules. “You can be yourself and still be successful,” he says. “You don’t have to dance for people if you don’t want to dance.”

“on the tender spot” also eulogizes another great jazz trumpeter, Roy Hargrove, who died of cardiac arrest in 2018. In the late-1990s and early-2000s, Hargrove was a link between jazz, hip-hop and soul, and appeared on pivotal records by D’Angelo, Common and Erykah Badu while forming his own sonic hybrid. Hargrove’s death rattled the jazz community and Akinmusire himself. “I don’t think I would be alive if I hadn’t met him when I did,” he tweeted at the time. “I am extremely grateful I got to tell him as a grown man to his face.” In turn, the song “Roy,” which draws from the Baptist hymn “The Lord’s Prayer”, is an almost three-minute reflection near the album’s end. The song feels funereal – equally mournful and optimistic. “Roy was my dude!” Akinmusire says. “We’ve had so many different ways of relating from the age of 15 to 35.”

It all leads to the album’s chilling closer, “Hooded procession (read the names aloud),” which extends Akinmusire’s tradition of remembering the fallen. On “When the Heart Emerges Glistening”, he had “My Name is Oscar.” On “the imagined savior” he had “Rollcall For Those Absent,” where a child reads the names aloud: Amadou Diallo, Wendell Allen, Trayvon Martin and Timothy Russell, among others. On “Origami”’s “the lingering velocity of the dead’s ambitions,” the tribute was implied: In lieu of names being rattled off, the music itself expressed grief. The same goes for “Hooded procession,” where Akinmusire’s sullen keys land exquisitely. As it unfolds, the instrumental track begs for a new set of names to be spoken. That it doesn’t have words and still resonates is the trumpeter’s greatest asset: Across this and other albums, he’s able to say powerful things without saying anything at all.

Radio-Kontakte

Media Promotion (Promotion Süd, West & Nord)

Rosita Falke
info@rosita-falke.de, Tel: 040 – 413 545 05

Musicforce
Anja Sziedat (Promotion Berlin / Ost)
anja.musicforce@gmail.com, Tel: 030 – 419 59 615, Mobil: 0177 – 611 5675

Blue Note/ Universal Music

CD 00602508926198

VÖ: 05.06.2020

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