NPR's The 50 Best Albums Of 2020 - Rated 19/50!
Ambrose Akinmusire follows his acclaimed, genre-busting 2018 manifesto, Origami Harvest, with another visionary statement on his 2020 released album 'on the tender spot of every calloused moment'. The trumpeter examines blackness on an uncompromising set of modern jazz laced with a heavy blues feeling. The album presents 11 new compositions, featuring his quartet and guest vocals from Genevieve Artadi and Jesus Diaz.
"Records by Ambrose Akinmusire are much-awaited events because there are so few of them and because he is the most important trumpet player to enter jazz in the new millennium. This release is a concept album. The concept is ambitious: to render in music the lethal contradictions and defiant triumphs of black experience in our present American moment. Akinsmusire is not about indulging his monstrous chops. He employs his unpredictable, searing, fearless trumpet to serve stories, which he has said are about 'the pain, beauty and optimism of blackness.' He plays with long, mournful tones or jagged edges or explosive, joyous breakouts. Pain is deep on 'Roy,' an elegy for Hargrove. Beauty is vivid on 'Yessss' with its passionate unfolding. 'Mr. Roscoe' and 'Moon' are celebrations. 'hooded procession (read the names aloud)' is Akinmusire on Rhodes tolling funeral bells for the fallen. But the blues (Akinmusire's mother tongue) never contain just one emotion, and neither do these tunes. 'An Interlude' and 'reset' hold pain, beauty, and optimism in dynamic tension. This music starts with Akinmusire's varied, free-form compositions, but the achievement is collective, by a world-class quartet. Pianist Sam Harris, with his spare chimings, is sensitive. Drummer Justin Brown, with his merciless detonations, is dangerous." - Thomas Conrad, Stereophile, Performance 4.5/5, Sonics 4/5
Prediction: This record will be at or near the top of the 'Album of the Year' category in the important jazz critics polls of 2020.
What does it mean when the improvising trumpeter-composer Ambrose Akinmusire refers to his latest triumph, on the tender spot of every calloused moment, as a blues album? He isn't talking about a 12-bar form or a genre so much as a point of view. Every piece on this dynamic, formally daring work speaks to the resilience of the blues aesthetic - what cultural critic Albert Murray (riffing on Kenneth Burke) used to call 'equipment for living.' Meaningfully, too, Akinmusire has raised the bar for his exceptional working band, which features Sam Harris on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass and Justin Brown on drums. Their selfless cohesion and elasticity speak to the task before us no less powerfully than the sobering parenthetical in Akinmusire's closing track, a dirge he plays alone on Fender Rhodes: 'Hooded procession (read the names outloud).'
- 180g Vinyl LP
- Gatefold jacket
- Tide Of Hyacinth
- Cynical Sideliners
- Mr. Roscoe (consider the simultaneous)
- An Interlude (that get' more intense)
- reset (quiet victories&celebrated defeats)
- Moon (the return amplifies the unity)
- Blues (We measure the heart with a fist)
- Hooded procession (read the names outloud)