When The Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)

Ambrose Akinmusire

Released April 5, 2011

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2011

JazzTimes Top 10 Albums of 2011

Grand Prix de l’Académie du Jazz 2011

YouTube: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp4B7rBKFJs&list=OLAK5uy_nAjKRcnHLVUzPnrEExNrz3G45q6osJTl0

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7klgB8E12bA0hSCJAEJsUs?si=oMw12PyyRwulie-Tar4S2w


Trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire’s When the Heart Emerges Glistening is an important statement that should be heard in its entirety. Akinmusire works with an excellent group — tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Justin Brown — that draws on jazz of the last fifty years to make something personal. The charged first track, “Confessions to My Unborn Daughter” opens with unaccompanied trumpet, immediately announcing the directly personal nature of this effort. A nice bass intro leads into “Henya,” a piece that displays the band’s reflective side and spotlights Akinmusire’s mastery of slow tempo playing. “My Name Is Oscar,” a duet for drums and spoken word, is a tribute to Oscar Grant, an unarmed African-American man who was killed by a transit officer in Oakland in 2009. The powerful piece contrasts Akinmusire’s flat reading with the building fury of Brown’s drums. An echoing trumpet opens “The Walls of Lechuguilla,” a high-energy update of hard bop with a hint of late ’60s Miles Davis. The lyrical “Ayneh” brings the album to a quiet, moving close.

Track Listing:

1. Confessions To My Unborn Daughter (Ambrose Akinmusire) 8:35

2. Jaya (Harish Raghavan) 5:27

3. Henya Bass Intro (Ambrose Akinmusire) 0:48

4. Henya (Ambrose Akinmusire) 5:21

5. Far But Few Between (Ambrose Akinmusire) 1:56

6. With Love (Ambrose Akinmusire) 6:52

7. Regret (No More) (Ambrose Akinmusire) 4:36

8. Ayneh (Cora) (Ambrose Akinmusire) 1:09

9. My Name Is Oscar (Ambrose Akinmusire) 3:49

10. The Walls of Lechuguilla (Ambrose Akinmusire) 5:29

11. What’s New (Johnny Burke / Bob Haggart) 3:04

12. Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto (Ambrose Akinmusire) 4:56

13. Ayneh (Campbell) (Ambrose Akinmusire) 1:36


Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet (1, 2, 4-7, 10-13), celeste (8), voice (9)
Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 12)
Gerald Clayton: piano (1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10, 11, 13)
Jason Moran: Fender Rhodes (4, 12)
Harish Raghavan: bass (1-6, 10, 12)
Justin Brown: drums (1, 2, 4-6, 9, 10, 12)

Recorded: September 20 – 22, 2010, at Brooklyn Studios, New York, NY

Producers: Ambrose Akinmusire and Jason Moran

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Dave Darlington


Anybody who caught the 28 year-old trumpeter’s impressive debut, Prelude: To Cora, three years ago, or his London gig with John Escreet round about the same time, or going further back, his debut with Steve Coleman, will know that the “coming man” has been coming for some time now. This new set indeed confirms a talent that is decidedly above the norm. He is also, like the aforementioned and his co-producer Jason Moran, a man happy to stride down a conceptual road less traveled.

One might point to the quite startling ‘My Name Is Oscar’ as proof positive thereof. The piece is nothing other than Akinmusire reciting fragments of a lament for a murder victim, Oscar Grant, over combustible yet airtight drumming from Justin Brown, but the combination of the voice and percussion, the excision of harmonic and melodic content, and the gaping holes left in the text are movingly eerie, a vivid metaphor for the brutal abruptness of the subject’s death. To a large extent, the song is a worthy centerpiece for the album but it is by no means the only highlight. What is apparent right from the disc’s opening salvo is that the sound that Akinmusire was developing on his previous release has evolved into an even stronger signature. Generally speaking, that means mid or down tempo pieces with a brooding blend of baroque and black church harmony which the frontline horns enrich with themes that have an airy, often leisurely nobility to them. Akinmusire and Smith deliver potent, impressively measured improvisations but the set really stands out for the cohesion of the band and the leader’s strength of character. At this early stage of his career, Ambrose Akinmusire is already showing signs of being a major creative figure in the making, one who realises that the jazz aesthetic is as much about content as form, imagination as execution.

Kevin Le Gendre (Jazzwise)