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 40)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Composer, musician
Years active2007 – present
LabelsBlue Note/Capitol/Universal

Ambrose Akinmusire (/ˌækɪnˈmsəri/[1] born May 1, 1982) is an American avant-garde jazz composer and trumpeter.[2][3]


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 lead a workshop.[3][4] Coleman hired him as a member of his Five Elements band for a European tour.[5] Akinmusire was also a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.[5]

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.[5]

In 2007, Akinmusire won 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.[6][7] The same year he released his debut recording Prelude... to Cora on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.[5] 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.[5] It was also during this time that he caught the attention of Bruce Lundvall, then President of Blue Note Records.[8]

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.[9] Akinmusire's third album, entitled The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint, was released in 2014.[10] His album Origami Harvest was included in The New York Times' Best Jazz of 2018.[11][12] His sixth studio album On the Tender Spot of every Calloused Moment, again with his quartet of longtime bandmates[2] – Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), and Justin Brown (drums), was released in spring 2020[13] and received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.[14]

Akinmusire is featured on the last track of Kendrick Lamar's 2015 release To Pimp a Butterfly.[4]

He has received awards including the 2014 North Sea Jazz Festival's Paul Acket Award[15] and both the Doris Duke Artist and Doris Duke Impact Awards;[16] recognition in the DownBeat Critics Poll has included Jazz Artist of the Year (2011) and winning the trumpet category every year from 2013 to 2020.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

Selected discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

Year Title Label Personnel
2008 Prelude... to Cora Fresh Sound Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Aaron Parks (piano), Chris Dingman (vibes), Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone), Joe Sanders (bass), Justin Brown (drums), Logan Richardson (alto saxophone), Junko Watanabe (vocals)[23]
2011 When the Heart Emerges Glistening Blue Note/EMI Records Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet, celeste, voice), Smith (tenor saxophone), Gerald Clayton (piano), Jason Moran (Rhodes), Harish Raghavan (bass), Justin Brown (drums)[24]
2014 The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint Blue Note/Capitol/Universal Records Akinmusire (trumpet, percussion), Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone), Harish Raghavan (bass), Justin Brown (drums), Sam Harris (mellotron, piano), Charles Altura (guitar), Theo Bleckmann (vocals), Cold Specks (vocals), Becca Stevens (vocals), Elena Pinderhughes (flute) and OSSO String Quartet: Maria Im (violin), Brooke Quiggins Saulnier (violin), Kallie Ciechomski (viola), Maria Jeffers (cello)[25]
2017 A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (2CDs) Blue Note/Capitol/Universal Records Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), Justin Brown (drums)[26]
2018 Origami Harvest Blue Note/Capitol/Universal Records Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet, synthesizer, voice), Kool A.D. (vocals), LmbrJck_t (vocals), Sam Harris (piano, keyboards), Michael Aaberg (keyboards), Marcus Gilmore (drums), Olivia De Prato (violin), Lauren Cauley Kalal (violin), Victor Lowrie Tafoya (viola), Mariel Roberts (cello), Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone)[27]
2020 On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment Blue Note Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet, Rhodes), Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), Justin Brown (drums)[3]

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
2023 Dhafer Youssef Street Of Minarets Beat Back Edition
2023 Billy Childs The Winds Of Change Mack Avenue


  1. ^ "Ambrose Akinmusire : interview vidéo Qobuz" on YouTube
  2. ^ a b Chinen, Nate (1 April 2011). "For a Team Player, the Solo Moments Are Secondary". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Chinen, Nate (8 May 2020). "Ambrose Akinmusire's New Album Is A Circle In Time, Right Back To His First Jazz Show". NPR. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b Spinelli, Adrian (5 October 2020). "Ambrose Akinmusire Soundtracks Black Resistance from Oakland to the World". KQED. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e Woodard, Josef (April 2014). "Ambrose Akinmusire: Life Beyond Ego" (PDF). DownBeat. pp. 26–31. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Competition - Past Winners and Judges". Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Archived from the original on 22 April 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Ambrose Akinmusire". Stanford Jazz Workshop. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Ambrose Akinmusire, "When the Heart Emerges Glistening"". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  10. ^ "First Listen: Ambrose Akinmusire, 'the imagined savior is far easier to paint'". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  11. ^ Russonello, Giovanni (10 October 2018). "Ambrose Akinmusire's Trumpet Takes a Back Seat to His Pen on 'Origami Harvest'". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  12. ^ Russonello, Giovanni (6 December 2018). "Best Jazz of 2018". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Akinmusire Biography". Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  14. ^ "GRAMMY Award Results for Ambrose Akinmusire". Recording Academy. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Ambrose Akinmusire Winner Paul Acket Award". North Sea Jazz Festival. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  16. ^ "2015 Doris Duke Artists Awards". Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  17. ^ "62nd Annual Critics Poll" (PDF). DownBeat. August 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  18. ^ "63rd Annual Critics Poll". DownBeat. August 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  19. ^ "64th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll" (PDF). DownBeat. August 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  20. ^ "DownBeat Announces Winners of the 2018 Int'l Critics Poll". DownBeat. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Salvant Tops 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll". DownBeat. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Terri Lyne Carrington Tops 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll". DownBeat. 6 July 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  23. ^ Turner, Mark F. (14 May 2008). "Ambrose Akinmusire: Prelude: To Cora". All About Jazz. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  24. ^ Fordham, John (28 April 2011). "Ambrose Akinmusire: When the Heart Emerges Glistening - review". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  25. ^ Jarenwattananon, Patrick (2 March 2014). "First Listen: Ambrose Akinmusire, 'the imagined savior is far easier to paint'". NPR. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  26. ^ Alkyer, Frank (June 2017). "Ambrose Akinmusire: A Rift In Decorum: Live At The Village Vanguard". DownBeat. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  27. ^ Considine, J.D. (November 2018). "Ambrose Akinmusire: Origami Harvest" (PDF). DownBeat. Retrieved 25 April 2021.

External links[edit]