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by Seth Colter Walls

March 12, 2014

Get Up With: Ambrose Akinmusire

by Seth Colter Walls  |  March 12, 2014

After trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2007, he didn’t leap directly to a major-label deal. His searching sound — part post-bop, part contemporary — was hinted at on a debut album, Prelude: To Cora, for the Fresh Sound New Talent label, especially on tracks like the catchy “HumSong.” (And, toward the end of the track, you can hear his exploration of drum 'n' bass moves, too.) In 2008, Akinmusire popped up on bassist Esperanza Spalding’s second album (you can hear their winning sound on her song “Mela”); the following year, the trumpeter was a memorable part of the ensemble on bassist Linda Oh’s debut.

But the big leap forward came in 2011, with Akinmusire’s debut on the storied Blue Note label: When the Heart Emerges Glistening showed hints of free-jazz playing (as in “Jaya”), as well as deft arranging touches (as on “Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto”). Even better is Akinmusire’s follow-up, The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint. Adding strings (check out “Inflatedbyspinning”) and vocalists (as on “Our Basement”) to his ensemble, the trumpeter still has plenty of room to blow (“As We Fight”) and search for long-form grace (which you can hear on the album's finale, “Richard”). Click play on our mix and you’ll hear all these tunes, as well as the trumpeter's aforementioned sideman dates. Enjoy!

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