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Larry Kart

ambrose akinmusire

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Any thoughts on him? I've listened to two of his albums, and while he has chops (albeit of a rather classical sort), I don't yet get, if I ever will, what he's saying. There is a some sense of personal habits of dissonance, but they don't seem to coalesce into melodic shapes  or even shapes period but instead kind of sound like habits of dissonance being stretched out/extended. Rhythmically there nothing "wrong" but nothing notably "right," as in striking, communicative either. As a composer, "blare-y" is the the word that comes to mind. I'm curious to hear other thoughts though.
 

Oops -- I see I've asked this question before.

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I heard him here in DC about 4-5 years ago in a small theater, and I had a tough time connecting with his music. On paper, it should have been right up my alley, but it just didn't hit me, for whatever reason.

I love lots of avant-garde music, but there's lots that leaves me cold too. I tend to like progressive trumpet (better than sax), but I just wasn't feelin' it that night.

Might have been him, might have been me, or maybe some of both. Haven't ever bought any of his recordings yet.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Larry, how do you feel about other Steve Coleman trumpet alumni like Ralph Alessi and Jonathan Finlayson?  (Should we put Graham Haynes in this bucket too?)

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I’m much more of a fan men/woman such as Nate Wooley, Susana Santos Silva, Taylor Ho Bynum and even Peter Evans when he is playing as a foil or in someone else’s improvising group. Ralph Alessi & Jonathan Finlayson are fine players but to my ears still straight trumpeters who seem to play some ‘avant’ flourishes. I feel somewhat the same about Jamie Branch but I havn’t listened enough. I really like Josh Berman & Kirk Knuffke (who both play primarily cornet - as does Bynum) & Corey Wilkes but Berman & Wilkes are from Chicago and I’ve not heard enough from them.

for older dudes, give me Herb Robertson all day & night as he’s still better than any of them besides the true top of the heap of radical Northeast players.

Maybe it’s my taste but I like the radical innovators. Not sure any of the others are doing much new but some (like Knuffke, Berman & Wilkes) seem to have a knack for wonderfully melodic improvising. Not sure they have the edge/fire that the others or the *great* Herb Robertson have.

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3 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

Larry, how do you feel about other Steve Coleman trumpet alumni like Ralph Alessi and Jonathan Finlayson?  (Should we put Graham Haynes in this bucket too?)

I like what I've heard of Alessi. Finlayson's work I don't know. FWIW, the last time I heard Coleman in person (in Philadelphia last summer) I succumbed to boredom.

1 hour ago, Steve Reynolds said:

I’m much more of a fan men/woman such as Nate Wooley, Susana Santos Silva, Taylor Ho Bynum and even Peter Evans when he is playing as a foil or in someone else’s improvising group. Ralph Alessi & Jonathan Finlayson are fine players but to my ears still straight trumpeters who seem to play some ‘avant’ flourishes. I feel somewhat the same about Jamie Branch but I havn’t listened enough. I really like Josh Berman & Kirk Knuffke (who both play primarily cornet - as does Bynum) & Corey Wilkes but Berman & Wilkes are from Chicago and I’ve not heard enough from them.

for older dudes, give me Herb Robertson all day & night as he’s still better than any of them besides the true top of the heap of radical Northeast players.

Maybe it’s my taste but I like the radical innovators. Not sure any of the others are doing much new but some (like Knuffke, Berman & Wilkes) seem to have a knack for wonderfully melodic improvising. Not sure they have the edge/fire that the others or the *great* Herb Robertson have.

I like Wooley, Santos Silva, and Bynum and like like you have mixed feelings about Evans. Jamie is a friend and a favorite, as is Berman. Knuffke I need to hear more of, Wilkes has yet to light my fire. Herb Robertson absolutely.

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1 hour ago, Steve Reynolds said:

for older dudes, give me Herb Robertson all day & night as he’s still better than any of them besides the true top of the heap of radical Northeast players.

I like Herb Robertson just fine, but make mine Hugh Ragin and, of course, Wadada. Unless they're the true top of the heap to which you're referring.

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Regarding Akinmusire: I think he's a very interesting player.  I only know one of his records well, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, but I think the compositions go unexpected places. IMO, the band is strong too -- particularly the tenorist in the front line with Akinmusire, Walter Smith III. You can tell that the band plays together regularly. They're tight. ... And I don't have any issues with Akinmusire's approach or sound.  He can be "colorist" and play with some dissonance, but I find myself pulled in by it. Besides, another aspect of his playing -- every bit as prominent, if not more so -- is his tenderness and lyricism.

All that said (HutchFan said as he climbed aboard his hobby-horse), I really do think people tend to hear & experience music differently -- even when they're listening to the same thing.  So there you go.

 

BTW, I've been meaning to get the CD that Akinmusire made with Tom Harrell for a while now. Just haven't got 'round to it yet. It's called Something Gold, Something Blue, released a few years ago on HighNote. Anyone heard that one?

 

Edited by HutchFan

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59 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

Regarding Akinmusire: I think he's a very interesting player.  I only know one of his records well, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, but I think the compositions go unexpected places. IMO, the band is strong too -- particularly the tenorist in the front line with Akinmusire, Walter Smith III. You can tell that the band plays together regularly. They're tight. ... And I don't have any issues with Akinmusire's approach or sound.  He can be "colorist" and play with some dissonance, but I find myself pulled in by it. Besides, another aspect of his playing -- every bit as prominent, if not more so -- is his tenderness and lyricism.

All that said (HutchFan said as he climbed aboard his hobby-horse), I really do think people tend to hear & experience music differently -- even when they're listening to the same thing.  So there you go.

 

BTW, I've been meaning to get the CD that Akinmusire made with Tom Harrell for a while now. Just haven't got 'round to it yet. It's called Something Gold, Something Blue, released a few years ago on HighNote. Anyone heard that one?

 

Yes, it is good. I also heard Tom Harrell presenting the music from Something Gold... at the Village Vanguard, but Dave Douglas was the second trumpet on that occasion. 

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3 hours ago, JSngry said:

I like Herb Robertson just fine, but make mine Hugh Ragin and, of course, Wadada. Unless they're the true top of the heap to which you're referring.

Wadada for sure, haven't heard much recent Ragin.

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

I like Herb Robertson just fine, but make mine Hugh Ragin and, of course, Wadada. Unless they're the true top of the heap to which you're referring.

True top of the NEW heap for me is Wooley, Bynum and maybe a few others. 

Wadada is obviously an all-time great but there is something just more visceral and powerful about Herb Robertson’s playing than nearly anyone. Now or then or any time. I’ve seen his presence in a band transform it a number of times.

Edited by Steve Reynolds

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Did he ever jam with the Dead?

 

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14 hours ago, JSngry said:

Did he ever jam with the Dead?

 

Dead only added saxophones - only a few times except for late September 73 when they had a couple of horns added for 2 weeks - Branford a few times (2 or 3 concerts), then Ornette once and David Murray once or twice. All of these times 1990 through 1993 so never when they were at their real peak. 

When they were at their peak, they needed to add no one but Duane Allman played with them a couple of times🤗

Edited by Steve Reynolds

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So, no Rufus Harley? Or yes?

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The first time I heard Akinmusire live was with Mark Turner. I know Larry is not a fan of Turner, but I found Akinmusire to be a better foil for Turner than the trumpeter that regularly plays with him, Avishai Cohen. He brought more contrast to the group IMO. I have enjoyed most of the Akinmusire albums I have heard although I confess that the last quartet CD did not resonate with me as much. I saw the quartet live and it was a bit of a disappointment as well. I enjoy Akinmusire's playing, but my best experiences with him have been when there is another horn.

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I can believe it, Relyles, that Akinmusire made for a better partner. When I saw Turner with Avishai  about a year and a half ago at Constellation in Chicago, I thought my brain was going to congeal from all the faceless noodling; for this, Avishai seemed to be in good part responsible. He sounded like Don Ferrara on Quaaludes.

BTW, I found Turner fairly interesting when he came up; not having followed him that closely over the years, I have no idea how and when he came to be the way he is now.

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Just back from Middelheim Jazz Festival, where Akinmusire was artist in residence this year ... I've heard him in person already last winter with his fantastic quiartet (the one on the Blue Note double album from the Village Vanguard). I very much like his approach, both tonally as well as rhythmically ... and the band was truly together in a way that I've not heard all that often yet, all four able to jump in at any time and take any turn right away--a very challenginng approach it seemed, yet also one that allowed plenty of looseness on all sides. Sam Harris (his EP "Harmony", bandcamp/dl only, comes recommded, too!) is a great new voice on piano/keys, too.

At (in) Middelheim (a part of the city of Antwerp which is worth a visit, independently of the festival), the first appearance by Akinmusire was with "Origami Harvest". I was a bit doubtful how well this would work in a live setting, but it gelled right away. This was the first set after a fun opening by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids and an amazingly powerful set by David Murray's quartet with Saul Williams. A supercharged set indeed--I heard them for the third time and they smoked this time around, never heard Murray in such a mood ... he was in front row checking out Ackamoor's final ten or fifteen minutes, and I guess he went back with the will to show them boys how to really do it, and so he did, his band right with him. This seemed like a nearly impossible act to follow, but the Akinmusire band (with rapper Kokayi [Carl Walker], Sam Harris on piano/keys, Kendrick Scott on drums, the Mivos Quartet - which is right now playing with Saul Williams at Lucerne Festival, alas I'm not attending that) was on from the first beat. The two middle sets from the opening night would remain two of the four or five best sets of the festival (Pharoah Sanders did the closing set ... it was much better than I feared, but still ...)

On the second day, Akinmusire was probably rehearsing for the first of his sets on closing night, but on day three he was back. That night was adressing a different crowd, standing room only, the incredibly boring Nubiya Garcia (her band being the only one at the entire festival whose names weren't mentioned, a case of dumb disrespect, but I guess this is pop music ... sax tba, p tba, b tba, d tba - not quite sure it was really her playing, maye she sent in a sub ;)) ... anyway, we were there for the second set, which was Akinmusire's "Mae Mae", a project attempting to incorporate samples of the recordings made of the singing of Mattie Mae Thomas. The line-up this time was Akinmusire, again Kendrick Scott on drums, singer Dean Bowman, Joe Sanders-b, plus Gerald Clayton-p and Marvin Sewell-g (both part of the Charles Lloyd band that provided another highlight the night before). The set took a while to get going and proved a bit difficult. The interplay (or rather togetherplay) by Clayton/Sewell wasn't as amazing as the night before, but by the time the set came towards its end, I was quite stunned overall. Bowman was quite charismatic, the rhythm section pretty great, only those samples weren't really working at all ... triggered by Kendrick Scott, they weren't even matching in tempo, and with the rather thick orchestration of the band, and then Bowman singing at the same time, it kinda stopped making sense, yet that was definitely not the intention. Anyway, an okay set still, not a great one.

On closing night, Akinmusire had two gigs. We skipped the first set that night and arrived in time for his first appearance, with a quintet of students of the Antwerp conservatory. This was a more or less ECM-ish set, with Akinmusire blending in and never attempting to outshine the other guys, who were pretty competent and actually better than I was hoping, but it was all a bit too nice, too melancholy, too subdued for my likings. Two sets (and standing ovations for an awfully nice Toots Thielemans tribute headed by Kenny Werner and Grégoire Maret and featuring a messy guest appearance by local hero Philip Catherine) later, Akinmurise played a quartet set with Harris, Sanders and Scott over on the small stage, and that final set kind of saved closing night. Again they were focussed, to the point, alert, the music and the rhythms taking twists (Scott seems to have his hip stuff down, breaks and all, his beats sometimes skipping a milli-second or being delayed for a blink of an eyes etc.). Akinmusire well, yeah, he shined, but he doesn't do that in a flashy in-your-face way most of the time, he keeps his tone alive, adding shades and colours (and those dissonances mentioned above), his lines flexible and his beat pulsing. And I think he does bring qualities to his music that those mentioned by Steve above mostly lack, a punch, a puckish style, also loads of fun that don't make his stuff leightweight at all ... I love Santos Silva's clarity, I admire Finlayson, enjoy Knuffke and Berman, sometimes like Wooley, but am pretty bored by Branch ... either way, none of them have the force that Akinmusire has (and I guess all of them, most of the time, are too serious about their stuff and not leeting lose quite enough, which may actually be my main issue with Wooley, and partly with Peter Evans, too, who hasn't been mentioned for whatever reason, but this thread is about Akinmusire anyway and that constant derailing is getting extremely tiresome), at least that's how I hear it.

--

PS: Where's that noughties recording of Rufus Harley on trumpet? Or what was that all about anyway? Please answer in the fitting thread, which is not this ;) 

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7 hours ago, king ubu said:

Just back from Middelheim Jazz Festival, where Akinmusire was artist in residence this year ... I've heard him in person already last winter with his fantastic quiartet (the one on the Blue Note double album from the Village Vanguard). I very much like his approach, both tonally as well as rhythmically ... and the band was truly together in a way that I've not heard all that often yet, all four able to jump in at any time and take any turn right away--a very challenginng approach it seemed, yet also one that allowed plenty of looseness on all sides. Sam Harris (his EP "Harmony", bandcamp/dl only, comes recommded, too!) is a great new voice on piano/keys, too.

At (in) Middelheim (a part of the city of Antwerp which is worth a visit, independently of the festival), the first appearance by Akinmusire was with "Origami Harvest". I was a bit doubtful how well this would work in a live setting, but it gelled right away. This was the first set after a fun opening by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids and an amazingly powerful set by David Murray's quartet with Saul Williams. A supercharged set indeed--I heard them for the third time and they smoked this time around, never heard Murray in such a mood ... he was in front row checking out Ackamoor's final ten or fifteen minutes, and I guess he went back with the will to show them boys how to really do it, and so he did, his band right with him. This seemed like a nearly impossible act to follow, but the Akinmusire band (with rapper Kokayi [Carl Walker], Sam Harris on piano/keys, Kendrick Scott on drums, the Mivos Quartet - which is right now playing with Saul Williams at Lucerne Festival, alas I'm not attending that) was on from the first beat. The two middle sets from the opening night would remain two of the four or five best sets of the festival (Pharoah Sanders did the closing set ... it was much better than I feared, but still ...)

On the second day, Akinmusire was probably rehearsing for the first of his sets on closing night, but on day three he was back. That night was adressing a different crowd, standing room only, the incredibly boring Nubiya Garcia (her band being the only one at the entire festival whose names weren't mentioned, a case of dumb disrespect, but I guess this is pop music ... sax tba, p tba, b tba, d tba - not quite sure it was really her playing, maye she sent in a sub ;)) ... anyway, we were there for the second set, which was Akinmusire's "Mae Mae", a project attempting to incorporate samples of the recordings made of the singing of Mattie Mae Thomas. The line-up this time was Akinmusire, again Kendrick Scott on drums, singer Dean Bowman, Joe Sanders-b, plus Gerald Clayton-p and Marvin Sewell-g (both part of the Charles Lloyd band that provided another highlight the night before). The set took a while to get going and proved a bit difficult. The interplay (or rather togetherplay) by Clayton/Sewell wasn't as amazing as the night before, but by the time the set came towards its end, I was quite stunned overall. Bowman was quite charismatic, the rhythm section pretty great, only those samples weren't really working at all ... triggered by Kendrick Scott, they weren't even matching in tempo, and with the rather thick orchestration of the band, and then Bowman singing at the same time, it kinda stopped making sense, yet that was definitely not the intention. Anyway, an okay set still, not a great one.

On closing night, Akinmusire had two gigs. We skipped the first set that night and arrived in time for his first appearance, with a quintet of students of the Antwerp conservatory. This was a more or less ECM-ish set, with Akinmusire blending in and never attempting to outshine the other guys, who were pretty competent and actually better than I was hoping, but it was all a bit too nice, too melancholy, too subdued for my likings. Two sets (and standing ovations for an awfully nice Toots Thielemans tribute headed by Kenny Werner and Grégoire Maret and featuring a messy guest appearance by local hero Philip Catherine) later, Akinmurise played a quartet set with Harris, Sanders and Scott over on the small stage, and that final set kind of saved closing night. Again they were focussed, to the point, alert, the music and the rhythms taking twists (Scott seems to have his hip stuff down, breaks and all, his beats sometimes skipping a milli-second or being delayed for a blink of an eyes etc.). Akinmusire well, yeah, he shined, but he doesn't do that in a flashy in-your-face way most of the time, he keeps his tone alive, adding shades and colours (and those dissonances mentioned above), his lines flexible and his beat pulsing. And I think he does bring qualities to his music that those mentioned by Steve above mostly lack, a punch, a puckish style, also loads of fun that don't make his stuff leightweight at all ... I love Santos Silva's clarity, I admire Finlayson, enjoy Knuffke and Berman, sometimes like Wooley, but am pretty bored by Branch ... either way, none of them have the force that Akinmusire has (and I guess all of them, most of the time, are too serious about their stuff and not leeting lose quite enough, which may actually be my main issue with Wooley, and partly with Peter Evans, too, who hasn't been mentioned for whatever reason, but this thread is about Akinmusire anyway and that constant derailing is getting extremely tiresome), at least that's how I hear it.

--

PS: Where's that noughties recording of Rufus Harley on trumpet? Or what was that all about anyway? Please answer in the fitting thread, which is not this ;) 

That sounds like a music festival I would like to attend.

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8 hours ago, king ubu said:

Just back from Middelheim Jazz Festival, where Akinmusire was artist in residence this year ... I've heard him in person already last winter with his fantastic quiartet (the one on the Blue Note double album from the Village Vanguard). I very much like his approach, both tonally as well as rhythmically ... and the band was truly together in a way that I've not heard all that often yet, all four able to jump in at any time and take any turn right away--a very challenginng approach it seemed, yet also one that allowed plenty of looseness on all sides. Sam Harris (his EP "Harmony", bandcamp/dl only, comes recommded, too!) is a great new voice on piano/keys, too.

At (in) Middelheim (a part of the city of Antwerp which is worth a visit, independently of the festival), the first appearance by Akinmusire was with "Origami Harvest". I was a bit doubtful how well this would work in a live setting, but it gelled right away. This was the first set after a fun opening by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids and an amazingly powerful set by David Murray's quartet with Saul Williams. A supercharged set indeed--I heard them for the third time and they smoked this time around, never heard Murray in such a mood ... he was in front row checking out Ackamoor's final ten or fifteen minutes, and I guess he went back with the will to show them boys how to really do it, and so he did, his band right with him. This seemed like a nearly impossible act to follow, but the Akinmusire band (with rapper Kokayi [Carl Walker], Sam Harris on piano/keys, Kendrick Scott on drums, the Mivos Quartet - which is right now playing with Saul Williams at Lucerne Festival, alas I'm not attending that) was on from the first beat. The two middle sets from the opening night would remain two of the four or five best sets of the festival (Pharoah Sanders did the closing set ... it was much better than I feared, but still ...)

On the second day, Akinmusire was probably rehearsing for the first of his sets on closing night, but on day three he was back. That night was adressing a different crowd, standing room only, the incredibly boring Nubiya Garcia (her band being the only one at the entire festival whose names weren't mentioned, a case of dumb disrespect, but I guess this is pop music ... sax tba, p tba, b tba, d tba - not quite sure it was really her playing, maye she sent in a sub ;)) ... anyway, we were there for the second set, which was Akinmusire's "Mae Mae", a project attempting to incorporate samples of the recordings made of the singing of Mattie Mae Thomas. The line-up this time was Akinmusire, again Kendrick Scott on drums, singer Dean Bowman, Joe Sanders-b, plus Gerald Clayton-p and Marvin Sewell-g (both part of the Charles Lloyd band that provided another highlight the night before). The set took a while to get going and proved a bit difficult. The interplay (or rather togetherplay) by Clayton/Sewell wasn't as amazing as the night before, but by the time the set came towards its end, I was quite stunned overall. Bowman was quite charismatic, the rhythm section pretty great, only those samples weren't really working at all ... triggered by Kendrick Scott, they weren't even matching in tempo, and with the rather thick orchestration of the band, and then Bowman singing at the same time, it kinda stopped making sense, yet that was definitely not the intention. Anyway, an okay set still, not a great one.

On closing night, Akinmusire had two gigs. We skipped the first set that night and arrived in time for his first appearance, with a quintet of students of the Antwerp conservatory. This was a more or less ECM-ish set, with Akinmusire blending in and never attempting to outshine the other guys, who were pretty competent and actually better than I was hoping, but it was all a bit too nice, too melancholy, too subdued for my likings. Two sets (and standing ovations for an awfully nice Toots Thielemans tribute headed by Kenny Werner and Grégoire Maret and featuring a messy guest appearance by local hero Philip Catherine) later, Akinmurise played a quartet set with Harris, Sanders and Scott over on the small stage, and that final set kind of saved closing night. Again they were focussed, to the point, alert, the music and the rhythms taking twists (Scott seems to have his hip stuff down, breaks and all, his beats sometimes skipping a milli-second or being delayed for a blink of an eyes etc.). Akinmusire well, yeah, he shined, but he doesn't do that in a flashy in-your-face way most of the time, he keeps his tone alive, adding shades and colours (and those dissonances mentioned above), his lines flexible and his beat pulsing. And I think he does bring qualities to his music that those mentioned by Steve above mostly lack, a punch, a puckish style, also loads of fun that don't make his stuff leightweight at all ... I love Santos Silva's clarity, I admire Finlayson, enjoy Knuffke and Berman, sometimes like Wooley, but am pretty bored by Branch ... either way, none of them have the force that Akinmusire has (and I guess all of them, most of the time, are too serious about their stuff and not leeting lose quite enough, which may actually be my main issue with Wooley, and partly with Peter Evans, too, who hasn't been mentioned for whatever reason, but this thread is about Akinmusire anyway and that constant derailing is getting extremely tiresome), at least that's how I hear it.

--

PS: Where's that noughties recording of Rufus Harley on trumpet? Or what was that all about anyway? Please answer in the fitting thread, which is not this ;) 

Thanks so much for the commentary. Sounds like a wonderful festival.

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That was one of the most engaging pieces of jazz criticism I have read in ages!

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I saw Ambrose with a David Binney group around eight years ago. I thought he was sensational. What I’ve heard of his own music over the years seems overproduced and lacks the fire I heard then. 

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On ‎25‎.‎08‎.‎2019 at 10:29 AM, Clunky said:

I saw Ambrose with a David Binney group around eight years ago. I thought he was sensational. What I’ve heard of his own music over the years seems overproduced and lacks the fire I heard then. 

I guess that's why I think the live double album by his working quartet is the one you really ought to hear ;)

I loved that band in Zurich, and despite a different bassist and drummer in Antwerp, they were still supertight and yet loose in a way that nothing really seemed predictable ...

--

Also apologies for not having read Evans' name above ... I'll keep following what these guys and gals will do, I guess, but I have my reservations (which somehow seem to apply to plenty of the "white" jazz that's going on, no matter what skin colour and roots some of these folks actually have ... and I know "white" is not a sound label, but I guess it delivers the point), but with Akinmusire, there's none of that so far, at least in live context.

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I have the live two cd set and love the work of the trio supporting Ambrose. Ambrose himself doesn't impress me that much. . . can't really get into his playing.

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