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Ambrose Akinmusire: A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

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Ambrose Akinmusire: "A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard"
Ambrose Akinmusire: “A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard”

Like many live jazz albums, A Rift in Decorum amplifies Ambrose Akinmusire’s best qualities (his beautiful, penetrating trumpet sound and postbop melodies) as well as his worst (his proneness to being too hip for the room). It’s hard to say which is more powerful. But given that the album stretches over two discs, Akinmusire’s excesses may have the edge.

Its high points are as good as anything the trumpeter has ever done. On the midtempo musing “Maurice & Michael (sorry I didn’t say hello)” and the bereaved “Moment in Between the Rest (to curve an ache),” he plays long, elaborate lines that are rich with information. He also surprises with what he doesn’t play; the centerpiece of “Withered” is a boiling drum solo by Justin Brown, which also raises the temperatures of pianist Sam Harris’ and bassist Harish Raghavan’s ostinati. One expects Akinmusire to similarly gather steam; instead, he keeps the beat like a soldier calling cadence.

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