Pops… Miles… Diz… Wynton… Ambrose? When The Heart Emerges Glistening, the strong debut of 20-something Californian Ambrose Akinmusire, heralds the arrival of a major new name to the jazz trumpet tradition. Only time will tell if he’ll climb the lofty heights of his predecessors, but damn if this doesn’t sound like history in the making!
Akinmusire, the 2007 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, starts it off unaccompanied on “Confessions To My Unborn Daughter,” his solo sweetness setting a mellifluent tone. Then, like a flower blooming, his voice is submerged within the living pulse of a free-jazz swirl led by tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III and the piano/bass/drums rhythm section.
“Henya” is beautiful, especially when sax and trumpet harmonize, each sound laying atop another like two luxuriating bodies in the darkness of night.
As gem after gem unfolds, each musician struts his considerable stuff, be it bassist Harish Raghavan, drummer Justin Brown, pianist Gerald Clayton or producer/keyboardist Jason Moran. This is a band, after all, and Akinmusire proves himself to be an empathetic leader.
One could be hypnotized in the loving beauty of “Regret (No More)” into “Ayneh (Cora),” which has its antecedent in the work Miles Davis did with Gil Evans, but there’s really no time to ponder such criteria because before you know it “My Name Is Oscar” comes a-callin’ with its spoken-word gravity of an Oakland man killed by police (a brave moment on such a major label debut).
After pumping new life into the 1939 chestnut “What’s New,” “Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto” segues into “Ayneh (Campbell),” 1:36 of Akinmusire’s otherworldly embouchure, the kind of lip service that only comes along once maybe every couple of generations.
In A Word: Startling