Ambrose Akinmusire – Composer in Residence 2023
Every generation of trumpet players looks for a star to admire and navigate, like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. For a few years now, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire has been the star to follow. And now he comes to Norrbotten, as Norrbotten Big Band’s next Composer in Residence.
He began his professional journey already in high school in Orlando when the saxophonist Steve Coleman promptly took the young trumpeter with him on his European tour. A few years later (2007), the study period was crowned with his winning the two most prestigious prizes for jazz musicians: The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition.
After that, Ambrose moved to New York where he gradually came to collaborate with musicians such as Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding and Jason Moran. A little later followed the debut on Blue Note Records in 2011 with the record When the Heat Emerges Glistering.
But Ambrose’s artistry does not want to be framed in a single form. Several of his projects testify to the interest in contemporary music and in the spaces where other forms of expression meet. The appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s iconic 2015 hip hop release To Pimp a Butterfly is just one example of Ambrose Akinmusire’s curious attitude and in-demand skills. His music also bears clear traces of his African-American heritage and his family’s Nigerian origins.
The comparison with another central beacon in jazz is not taken out of thin air. Saxophonist Archie Shepp recounts how immediately after rehearsals and concerts, John Coltrane continued to practice and re-practice:
– My stepson Martin made the same observation about Ambrose when we rehearsed and played in Toulon, France. I immediately thought of when “Trane” played with Thelonius Monk at the Five Spot club, how he used to walk off stage into the kitchen to continue playing (practicing) until the next set started – without taking the mouthpiece out of his mouth!
From that story we understand that Ambrose is of a rare breed, a musician who constantly seeks immersion and who opens doors to new possibilities and conquests. And we certainly hear it in his music, which captures the inner strength of logic, but which is happy to let itself be overtaken by exploding outbursts that often end up in beautiful and tender compositions. It is his sparkling, warming and sometimes minimalistic trumpet playing together with extremely talented compositions that have made the jazz world take this unique trumpet player – who was nominated for a Grammy Award for his latest album On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment – to their hearts. Likewise we, who are very happy that Ambrose Akinmusire has chosen to collaborate with us in Norrbotten Big Band in 2023.
Compositions and Trumpet:
Live in Strandberg