On many best of the 2018 lists of jazz critics, Ambrose Akinmusire’s release “Origami Harvest” (Blue Note) is another addition to the crop of jazz greets both street rappers and hip-hop!
Akinmusire’s album, also incorporates the Mivos Quartet (a modern string ensemble) and a far heavier groove to the beats compared to this trumpeter’s calmer earliest recordings. Akinmusire, from Oakland, California, compliments or perhaps reacts to the flurry of progressive collaborations from Los Angeles, where Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Flying Lotus among others are all based. Akinmusire was among the jazz players contributing to Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and similarly, “Origami Harvest” is poetic, artistically-ambitious, politically-charged, and challenging to listeners.
For their upcoming tour in Europe, Akinmusire’s quartet includes Sam Harris on piano, Harish Raghaven on bass, and Justin Brown on drums. Raghaven and Brown have been with Akinmusire since his debut as a leader on Blue Note in 2011, for the album “When the Heart Emerges Glistening.” Harris joined Akinmusire from the 2014 Blue Note album “The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint” and this line up is his quartet on “A Rift in Decorum, Live at the Village Vanguard” Blue Note, 2017.
On this recording, Akinmusire’s quartet featuring Harris, Raghaven and Brown is both an urgent and more contemplative effort with long, cascading stretches of mostly relaxed or slow-downed solo free improvisation, without referring to the political and social unrest of our times, as they do so relentlessly on “Origami Harvest”. Instead, as Frank Alkyer has put it most accurately in the Downbeat review of them playing live, “It’s music that sneaks into your soul because whether fiery or quiet, nothing is ever rushed by these musicians; everything is thought out and purposeful.” So try to begin the year with this first-rate and ever-evolving post-bop/modern jazz group with such a profound and current resonance.
January 16, Wednesday – Flagey – Bruxelles, Belgium
January 17, Thursday – De Singer – Rijkevorsel, Belgium
January 18, Friday – Tivoli Vredenburg -Utrecht, Netherlands
January 19, Saturday – Lantaren Venster – Rotterdam, Netherlands
January 20, Sunday – Bee Flat-Club – Bern, Switzerland
January 22, Tuesday – Moods – Zurich, Switzerland
January 23, Wednesday – Blue Note Milano – Milano, Italy
January 24, Thursday – Jazz Dock – Prague, Czech Republic
January 26, Saturday – Music Society Plektrum @ Mejeriet – Centrala Staden, Sweden
January 28, Monday – Porgy & Bess – Wien, Austria
January 29, Tuesday – Jazzclub Unterfahrt – Munchen, Germany
January 30, Wednesday – domicil hall – Dortmund, Germany
February 1, Friday – Espace Cultural Andre Malraux – Le Kremlin-bircetre, France
February 2, Saturday – Theatre Benno Besson – Yverdon-les-bains, Switzerland
Artists website: Ambrose Akinmusire
Senior writer: Tony Ozuna
Photo credits: Courtesy of the artist, © Pierrick Guidou – and (c) info: all rights go to original recording artist/owner/photographer(s).
YT Video: Mezzo TV
Last modified: June 17, 2020