Ambrose Akinmusire

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Ambrose Akinmusire
Performing in Oakland, California, 2014
Performing in Oakland, California, 2014
Background information
Born (1982-05-01) May 1, 1982 (age 38)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Years active2000s – present
LabelsBlue Note/Capitol/Universal
Associated actsJoni Mitchell, Cold Specks, Walter Smith III

Ambrose Akinmusire (ah-kin-MOO-sir-ee; born May 1, 1982) is an American jazz trumpeter.


Born and raised in Oakland, California, Akinmusire was a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, where he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman who was visiting the school to give a workshop. Coleman hired him as a member of his Five Elements band for a European tour. Akinmusire was also a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

Akinmusire studied at the Manhattan School of Music before returning to the West Coast to take a master's degree at the University of Southern California and attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles.

In 2007, Akinmusire was the winner of both the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, two of the most prestigious jazz competitions in the world.[1][2] The same year he released his debut recording Prelude... to Cora on the Fresh Sound New Talent label. He moved back to New York City and began performing with Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding, and Jason Moran, taking part in Moran's innovative multimedia concert event In My Mind: Monk At Town Hall, 1957. It was also during this time that he caught the attention of Bruce Lundvall, then President of Blue Note Records.

Akinmusire made his debut on the Blue Note label in 2011 with the album When the Heart Emerges Glistening, featuring his quintet of tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Justin Brown.[3]

In 2014 he won the North Sea Jazz Festival's Paul Acket Award.[4] Akinmusire's third album, entitled The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint, was released on March 11, 2014.[5]

Akinmusire is featured on the last track of Kendrick Lamar's 2015 release To Pimp a Butterfly.

His sixth studio album On the Tender Spot of every Calloused Moment, again with his quartet of longtime bandmates – Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), and Justin Brown (drums), was released in spring 2020.[6]

Selected discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

Year Title Label
2008 Prelude... to Cora Fresh Sound
2011 When the Heart Emerges Glistening Blue Note/EMI Records
2014 The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint Blue Note/Capitol/Universal Records
2017 A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (2CDs) Blue Note/Capitol/Universal Records
2018 Origami Harvest Blue Note/Capitol/Universal Records
2020 On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment Blue Note

As sideman[edit]

Year Artist Title Label
2001 Steve Coleman Resistance Is Futile Label Bleu
2002 Aaron Parks Shadows KeynoteRecords
2003 Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd In What Language? Pi Recordings
2006 Walter Smith III Casually Introducing New Talent Spain
2007 Alan Pasqua Anti Social Club Cryptogramophon
2007 Sara Gazarek Return to You Native Language
2007 Josh Roseman New Constellations: Live in Vienna (Live) Accurate Records
2008 John Escreet Consequences Posi-Tone
2008 Esperanza Spalding Esperanza Heads Up
2008 Danny Grissett Form Criss Cross Jazz
2009 Le Boeuf Brothers House Without a Door lbjazz
2009 Roy Hargrove Big Band Emergence EmArcy
2010 John Escreet Don't Fight the Inevitable Mythology Records
2010 Walter Smith III III Criss Cross Jazz
2010 David Binney Barefooted Town Criss Cross Jazz
2011 David Binney Graylen Epicenter Mythology Records
2011 Vince Mendoza Nights on Earth Horizontal Jazz
2011 Chris Dingman Waking Dreams Between Worlds
2012 Mette Juul Moon on my Shoulder
2012 Jack DeJohnette Sound Travels Golden Beams/eOne
2013 Dayna Stephens That Nepenthentic Place Sunnyside
2013 Gerald Clayton Life Forum Concord
2013 Yellowjackets A Rise in the Road Mack Avenue
2015 Marcus Miller Afrodeezia Blue Note
2016 Wolfgang Muthspiel Rising Grace ECM
2017 Blue Note All-Stars Our Point of View Blue Note
2018 Camilla Battaglia EMIT: Rotator Tenet Dodicilune
2018 Allison Miller & Carmen Staaf Science Fair Sunnyside
2018 Laila Biali Laila Biali ACT
2018 Raymond Angry One JMI
2018 Mary Halvorson Code Girl Firehouse 12
2018 Wolfgang Muthspiel Where the River Goes ECM
2019 Brad Mehldau Finding Gabriel Nonesuch


  1. ^ "Competition - Past Winners and Judges". Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz. Archived from the original on 22 April 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  2. ^ Eisensmith, Kevin. "The 2007 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition". International Trumpet Guild. Archived from the original on 2014-04-20. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Ambrose Akinmusire, "When the Heart Emerges Glistening"". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  4. ^ "Ambrose Akinmusire Winner Paul Acket Award". North Sea Jazz Festival. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  5. ^ "First Listen: Ambrose Akinmusire, 'the imagined savior is far easier to paint'". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  6. ^ "Akinmusire Biography". Retrieved 2020-05-23.

External links[edit]