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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Ambrose Akinmusire - Beauty is Enough (Origami Harvest, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

The title says it all: "Beauty Is Enough", an astonishing solo trumpet performance by Ambrose Akinmusire, who is usually more active in what we could call 'modern creative' jazz, and member of several bands that we reviewed over the years, but never as a leader. 

On this album, he strips away any reference to any musical genre, or using his incredible eclectic knowledge of music, ranging from classical to free improvisation, to bring us sixteen relatively short pieces, in which he creates a fascinating musical universe of crystal clarity and deep emotion. Austerity and masterful discipline on his instrument are merged with feelings and compositional complexity. There are moments when his sound is closer to classical than to jazz, with a purity of sound that is uncanny in its resonance in the open space. In stark contrast to classical musical are acoustically distorted and fractured sounds, bended notes, expressive and exploratory moments. It sometimes sounds like a merging of Bach and Lester Bowie. Bach also comes to mind in his use of structural repetitions, that get slightly altered each time. For most pieces he manages to introduce thematic patterns acting as a foundation for this improvised flights of sound, as if he is accompanying himself without overdub. 

I have listened to it for months now. I have put the album away, and listened to a lot of other music in between, but then you need to hear it again. It is calming, soothing, comforting, it shines, it brightens the room, the space, the day, it jubilates and moans, it energises, it baffles by its incredible virtuosity. It is majestic, solemn, magnificent, yet equally sensitive, personal, intimate, lightfooted and playful. And not one after the other. All these things together, at the same time, and as you notice, there are not enough adjectives to describe my enthusiasm. At the same time it is also authentic, unassuming, humble in its approach. 

Akinmusire was already known to be an excellent trumpet player, but he has outdone himself, propelled himself into a different league altogether. 

He does not seem to want to prove anything. It is not self-centered or designed to break boundaries. It just says: listen to this. This music. Beauty is enough. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp


Anonymous said...

Almost seems effortless, beauty is indeed enough.