Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ambrose Akinmusire - Prelude to Cora (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008)

I first head about trumpeter and composer Akinmusire when he won the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 2007, and since then he has been making a name for himself as a sideman and now as a leader. This is a very ambitious album, here Akinmusire is joined by Aaron Parks on piano, Chris Dingman on vibes, Walter Smith III on tenor saxophone, Joe Sanders on bass, Justin Brown on drums with Logan Richardson on alto saxophone and Junko Watanabe singing on a few tracks. There is a very strong drive to cover a lot of ground on this CD with flashes of classical and pop music integrated into the post bop modern jazz that pervades the album. The tracks that I enjoyed the most where the stronger uptempo performances like the driving "HumSong (Skidrow Anthem)" and the lengthy "Dingmandingo" both of which have some crackling improvisational passages from all concerned. Some of the midtempo pieces drag a little bit, but they do have an interesting feel with shimmering vibes and wordless vocals. The album ends with a nod toward the jazz tradition with Akinmusire and Parks improvising nicely on a classy duo version of Benny Golson's "Stablemates." This is a solid album of mainstream jazz. The young and talented musicians performing here have their own conception and draw on many different facts of music and work to combine them into a cohesive whole.
Prelude to Cora -

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