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Hit Couleurs JAZZ

Ambrose Akinmusire changes label and instrumental formula! The freshly forty-something trumpeter, who released five albums on the Blue Note label between 2010 and 2020, moves to Nonesuch with a trio featuring only Bill Frisell and Herlin Riley.

It’s a radical change of direction, since his other recordings featured between three and ten musicians around his trumpet, producing a rich and constantly inventive musical style.

This asceticism is also evident in the title of the new album: simply “Owl Song“, whereas two previous CDs were entitled “The Imagined Savior is far Easier to Paint” or “On the tender spot of every calloused moment“. Does this mean that Akinmusire‘s music on this new CD has become as crepuscular as the song of the nocturnal raptor?

No doubt in part, since his trumpet, the main melodic instrument here, adopts a sober, uncluttered sound and limpid phrasing on slow or medium-tempo themes. The aim is clearly narrative, and the accompaniment is extremely restrained, as on two duets with the guitarist and then the drummer, entitled “Mr. Frisell” and “Mr. Riley“.

The trumpeter’s aim here is clearly to assert himself as a voice, essentially preoccupied with telling stories and whose main concern is singing. And so it is that we follow the eight “short stories” he offers us like uncluttered narratives, where Bill Frisell‘s chords and arpeggios and the subtle, invigorating drumming of Louisiana’s Herlin Riley provide a minimalist backdrop, both sober and refined.

A pleasant surprise and a complete success, this chamber jazz confirms that Ambrose Akinmusire is a musician from whom we can always expect the best.

Line up :

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet, compositions

Bill Frisell: guitar

Herlin Riley: drums


Owl Song was released by Nonesuch – wea on December, 15 2023.

©Photos Michael Wilson

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