BRATLEBORO—Ambrose Akinmusic is a truth-teller whose music is an expression of his personal journey as a black man. Although he enjoys playing jazz standards, he chooses to compose original music that draws attention to the realities of racism.
The Vermont Jazz Center is pleased to present the Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet, featuring Akinmusire on trumpet, Micah Thomas on piano, Linda May Han Oh on bass, and Tim Angulo on drums, on Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m.
This will be a live, in-person concert and will not be broadcast live.
Akinmusire’s latest album, his fifth on Blue Note Records, On the sore spot of every callused moment , was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
His list of accolades includes International Jazz Trumpet Competition winner Thelonious Monk, International Solo Trumpet Competition winner Carmine Caruso; Downbeat Critics’ Poll: Jazz Artist of the Year, Best Trumpet (multiple times); jazz hour Critics’ Poll: Trumpeter of the Year (three times), Artist of the Year and Record of the Year; Jazz Journalists Association Trumpeter of the Year, and others too numerous to mention.
His discography includes six albums as a frontman and backing work with Kendrick Lamar, Joni Mitchell, Joel Ross, Brad Mehldau, the Blue Note All-Stars and many more.
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Inot a recent interview with Phil Freeman of burning ambulance podcast, Ambrose alluded to his upbringing as the child of a Mississippi Delta woman and a father from Lagos, Nigeria.
“I was raised by a woman from the most racist county in the most racist state in the country,” he said. “My mother picked pecans from Fannie Lou Hamer’s garden. My uncle knew Emmet Till. I was born and raised in Oakland and my first trumpet teacher was actually a Black Panther. That’s how I grew up. »
“Living in Oakland is my experience,” he continued. “My life is not made up of love ballads. It’s difficult, it’s beautifully complicated. I have to find a way to express this complexity. I would say every black man living in America has to deal with this […] so it’s all in my music.
In this interview, Akinmusire reluctantly accepted his position as the leader, as the person others paid attention to.
“What are you doing from your platform? ” He asked.
“I tried to run away and I tried to deny that I had [an influential voice] for a long time,” he said. “Now I can’t anymore. It’s important for me to talk about the injustices that black people experience and the fear that I have walking around the United States and many places around the world.
“And that’s why I called this last album a blues album – it tries to express beauty and pain at the same time, trying to express what for me is the most defining part: resilience. And that’s what all my records try to express.
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Sstrong convictions define each of Akinmusire’s albums as a leader. His compositions and arrangements are not easy to listen to, but they are so well balanced that the struggles and anxiety that emerge are part of a larger picture that is drowned out by a universal balance achieved through long periods of sensitive playing and of empathetic reflection.
Akinmusire’s trumpet sound is unlike anyone else. He masterfully bends the notes up and down to make the air coming out of his horn sound like the melismas of a human voice.
In an interview with Qobuz Music about his album The imagined Savior is much easier to paint, which includes three guest vocalists, Akinmusire says, “I’m really influenced by the voice, especially the female voice, because it’s the same range as the trumpet, especially the range that I like to play in. There’s a certain timbre, qualities of timbre that the female voice has that I look for in my sound.
Citing Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Bjork, Sarah Vaughan and Becca Stevens as examples, “I’m really influenced by voice,” he says. “More than any instrument, this is what I look to for inspiration.”
Akinmusire also explores other sonic possibilities such as unique shapes, atypical instrumentation, extended techniques and varied textures. Although his vocabulary is mostly jazz-based, he studied string writing at Thelonious Monk Institute and uses the magical colors of a string quartet to great effect on two of his albums, The imagined Savior is much easier to paint and origami harvest .
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In general, Akinmusire uses these creative tools to express the black experience through his own personal lens.
He sees black music as a continuum. He sees himself as a channel for his expression. As an example of how black music is seamlessly connected across genres and history, Akinmusire implies that we should examine the relationship between gospel music and jazz.
“I remember the first time I heard Art Blakey Moanin’ (composed by Bobby Timmons), and it sounded like gospel music played on instruments with a different beat,” he said.
One of Akinmusire’s most striking (and perhaps controversial) accomplishments is that he views hip-hop music as the natural evolution of black music. In his conversation with Phil Freeman, he gets involved.
“First of all, we have to address what hip-hop is to me – it’s not a genre of music that has a backbeat that people rap about – it’s a culture for me, and I do part of hip-hop culture: the way I speak and the way I see and experience the world,” he says. “So I would say my music is that [hip-hop].
“And I would go a step further and say that hip-hop music is the most natural development of jazz,” Akinmusire continues. “If you look at what was happening in the 70s [and] accept that Weather Report and Head Hunters is jazz, then you have to accept hip-hop as jazz. So for me, hip-hop is jazz.
“I can hear Louis Armstrong in Kendrick Lamar, I really can,” he says.
“It’s kind of like what I was saying about Art Blakey and gospel. Black music at the end of the day is black music. And I would say I do black music, and therefore I do jazz, and therefore I do gospel – and it’s all part of the same tree.
“You can’t pull a branch from the same tree and plant it, and convince everyone that what’s growing is a different tree. Black music is black music.
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MIah Jgay performed at VJC with Immanuel Wilkins in 2021. Thomas, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, began playing the piano by ear at age 2, and soon after began private piano training. piano.
In 2015, Thomas received the Jerome L. Greene Scholarship from the Juilliard School and graduated with his Masters of Music in 2020.
He now performs in venues all over town, both as the frontman of his own bands and as a sideman for such luminaries as Joel Ross, Lage Lund, Giveton Gelin, Melissa Aldana and others. He also appeared as a guest with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2017 alongside Sullivan Fortner, Aaron Diehl and Joel Wenhardt, and as a solo performer at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival. In 2020, Thomas released their first album, Tide, to many positive reviews.
Linda May Han Oh has performed and recorded with artists such as Pat Metheny, Kenny Barron, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas and others. Originally born in Malaysia and raised in Boorloo (Perth), Australia, she has received numerous awards, such as second place in the BASS2010 competition, a semi-final in the BMW Welt Jazz Award competition and an honorary mention in the Thelonious Monk Institute of International Jazz Bass Competition.
Oh received the 2010 Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year and was the 2012 low beat Rising Star Critics Poll — Bass. She was voted Bassist of the Year 2018, 2019 and 2020 by the Association of Jazz Journalists, as well as Rising Artist of the Year 2019. She was also voted Bassist of the Year 2019 in Hot Hutilize Jazz Magazine.
Oh had five outings as a lead that received critical acclaim. His latest release Aventurine, is a double quartet album with string quartet and vocal group Invenio, which won Best New Jazz Work for the Australian APRA Art Awards. The Wall Street Journal says that “Linda Oh’s innovative range and stellar improvisations have made [her] one of the most dynamic rising stars in jazz today.
She is based in New York and is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston and is also part of the school’s Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice.
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Jhe drummer for the quartet is Tim Angulo. Originally from Berkeley, California, Angulo now works with Wallace Roney, Reggie Workman, Kamasi Washington, Jonathan Finlayson, Charenée Wade and Marlena Shaw. He has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazz à Vienne and Jazzfestival Bern in Switzerland.
Angulo was a member of the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, California, and later joined the Jazz Education Network’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, where he performed alongside Wynton Marsalis. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The New School in New York in Jazz and Contemporary Music and also attended the Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music, where he studied with Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey.
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Bbecause Ambrose Akinmusire lives in California and rarely tours, this concert will be a special and rare event. The musicality will be stellar and the quality of the experience will be sublime.
This concert will be a limited experience. The Jazz Center expects a full house, especially since the number of participants is limited to 120.
Setting up this gig took years, but it will be worth the wait. Come discover Ambrose Akinmusire, a legendary trumpeter, a living legend who speaks for his generation as a respected leader.