Akinmusire (b. 1982) has Nigerian parents and grew up in Oakland. Early mentors were trumpeter Robert Porter and pianist Ed Kelly. After attending Berkeley High School, he received a scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music with Dick Oatts and Lew Soloff, among others. A supporter at this stage was Steve Coleman, of whose Five Elements he was a member (Resistance Is Futile, 2001). He then studied at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance with Terence Blanchard and Billy Childs.
California trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire was just 19 years young and still studying at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music when he was offered his first top job. Saxophonist and free-funk pioneer Steve Coleman was so enthusiastic about the youngster that he brought him into his band "Five Elements". Since then, Akinmusire, who was voted "best trumpeter of the year" by the trade magazine Downbeat in 2012, has repeatedly jammed with jazz greats such as Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. He also regularly demonstrates his musical multilingualism with his quartet, when he bridges the gap between modern jazz standards and spoken words to hip-hop grooves.
Intellect and passion enter into a fascinating combination in Ambrose Akinmusire's playing. The man with the (supposed) tongue-twister name is a virtuoso, consummate trumpeter with an expansive imagination. He celebrates the African in African-American not only musically. His work gains even more depth through a political subtext about the reality of life for African Americans in the USA.
Akinmusire's wonderful quartet, which he now brings here for the first time to Basel's Atlantis, is consistent; it has been playing in the same line-up for many years. The albums of the musician, who was born in Oakland and now lives again in California, are published by Blue Note. Most recently, in 2020, came "on the tender spot of every calloused moment." The record was nominated for a Grammy for best instrumental album in the jazz category.
Akinmusire enlivens the art form of improvised music with a contemporary, yet very tradition-conscious free-spiritedness that brings to mind the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry, Andrew Hill, or Matthew Shipp. His music inhabits a cosmos of its own, often rather quiet and profound, where sensuality and abstraction act as equally strong forces.