Ambrose Akinmusire – Owl Song

Review Ambrose Akinmusire – Owl Song

How much does it take to make good music? How many musicians? And how much skill? Experience teaches us that the greater the degree of skill, the less necessary it is to have a lot of musicians and that above a certain level of incompetence, the quantity is merely additive to the dilemma.

When veteran guitarist Bill Frisell joins forces with drummer Hermlin Riley, who has provided beats for Wynton Marsalis, Ahmad Jamal, Geroge Benson and other jazz greats, with trumpeter Ambose Akinmusire, the result is promising in many ways.

Akinmusire is currently regarded as the innovator of jazz. Why is that? Well, he uses the familiar and makes the unknown with it. As in the case of his latest album Owl Song. Whether this means an owl song or an old song remains to be seen, especially as Owl Song 1 is joined by Owl Song 2, along with six other tracks that add up to almost 42 minutes of jazz of a different kind.

Mr. Riley shows what such a mixture of old and new can look like, with Akinmusire playing over a typical New Orleans jazz beat, which Riley also varies, illustrates and orchestrates in many different ways.

What makes Akinmusire's jazz so different, however, is the calm that radiates from the music. It is a peaceful, relaxed listening experience, a quiet atmosphere carried by fluffy drums and soft chords that creates plenty of space for sustained trumpet notes. Which in Henya is almost reminiscent of a warm-up in the orchestra pit. Which transforms grace into sound in Grace. Or in Flux Feelings, which draws its calm from an almost meditative ostinato structure.

For me, Owl Song is one of the most surprising jazz albums of the year and is one of my definite favorites. Listen to it urgently!

Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet
Bill Frisell, guitar
Herlin Riley, drums

(Thomas Semmler, HighResMac)

Ambrose Akinmusire – Owl Song

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