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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Ambrose Akinmusire – Beauty Is Enough (Origami Harvest, 2023)

By Matty Bannond

The Church of St. Eustache in Paris has a complex character. Built between 1532 and 1632, its exterior and interior design reflects Gothic, Renaissance and classical traditions. Ambrose Akinmusire stepped into that slippery space to record a solo trumpet album in 2022. It’s a revealing and visceral fourteen-track snapshot that offers fresh insights into a well-known artist.

Akinmusire won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in 2007. Now, he has released his first album as a lone player. Beauty Is Enough presents the trumpeter’s phrasing and tone in deep detail, with each note bouncing around the church’s cavernous stone interior. There’s captivating tension between the stripped-down instrumentation and scaled-up acoustic context.

On the first three tracks, Akinmusire feels out the contours of this holy studio. There’s a toe-in-the-water quality to the way the trumpeter starts slow and low, observing how the instrument’s voice behaves before venturing faster and higher. Listeners may benefit from playing this album at loud volume to get a sense of the cathedral’s interior. There’s intimacy in the fizz of Akinmusire’s breath escaping his embouchure. At times, he even grunts and clears his throat. It’s possible to hear each flurry of notes rebounding off ancient stone like a sonic boom or a comet’s tail.

Call and response patterns are another key feature. Akinmusire often explores multiple personalities, repeating a low phrase and answering with more varied high-pitched shapes. There’s a two-note call on “-Ann_” that receives no reply, followed by a three-note call on “Rio” that provokes rapid-fire backchat. Three tracks have titles beginning with “To:”, and they are all constructed around the same low-range setup.

Beauty Is Enough lets listeners see the skeleton beneath Ambrose Akinmusire’s robust body of work. It showcases the trumpeter’s versatile and multifaceted style with lucid clarity. Like the Church of St. Eustache, this album reflects a range of ideas and traditions. It’s a slippery record. But rock solid.

The album is available on CD, vinyl and as a digital download here .


Alexander said...

Stef gives it 5 stars? Add to wishlist. Matty reviews it? Immediate purchase :-)

Anonymous said...

If one of us doesn't get you, two of us will! Come back and share your thoughts after listening, Alexander 👍