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Ambrose Akinmusire: the imagined savior is far easier to paint

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Self-seriousness lurks in the piano and trumpet delicacies that begin the imagined savior is far easier to paint; all that’s missing is ECM’s famous five-second silence. By album’s end, though, it has developed into an early candidate for the best of 2014.

Unabashedly arty, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s third album is his “composer” record. He doesn’t play it safe, either. The 12 originals here (plus one cut written by Becca Stevens) are complex pieces: multiple sections, tricky meters, a lack of motifs or conventional forms. “Vartha,” for example, at first seems built on a mellow 3/4 vamp for guitarist Charles Altura, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown, with pianist Sam Harris sometimes joining; Akinmusire’s entry demolishes the groove, then restores it just long enough to modulate to a new key before demolishing it again. Another, “Bubbles (john william sublett),” has a linear, full-ensemble tune that confounds attempts to count meter and occupies (between statement and reprise) three of the track’s four minutes. Not likely to become standards, these pieces nevertheless successfully convey profound emotion-and Akinmusire’s trumpeting.

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