Ambrose Akinmusire: Owl Song

Another cool - or even cooler - set from the New Orleans born trumpeter, appearing with Bill Frisell and Herlin Riley


Ambrose Akinmusire has been with us for a number of years now, receiving glowing reports on his work and winning the Downbeat best trumpeter award eight years on the trot. His CV is very impressive, giving him the right to indulge himself on occasion – as he does on Owl Song.

In his own words, he set out to produce a release to use “space” and he has certainly succeeded with his latest disc, which, using a pared down unit, is for the most-part a circumspect study, the atmosphere mostly ethereal. Only on Mr. Riley does the heat rise in any way, shape or form as the drummer wheels out patterns straight from his birthplace New Orleans, whereas elsewhere he uses his kit economically.

The trumpeter barely gets out of first gear, his more expansive nature only getting a showing on Grace and the duet that is Mr. Frisell. Sometimes he can be repetitive, as in Weighted Corners, and often relies on sustained notes to complement the guitarist’s familiar stylistic nuances. As one can imagine, the guitarist revels in this sparse landscape – familiar country for a musician who has become more and more economical over time.

It seems certain the leader’s purpose was fulfilled on this release but some listeners may prefer more meat on the bone.

(1) Owl Song 1; Weighted Corners; Flux Fuelings; Owl Song 2; Grace; (2) Mr. Frisell; (3) Mr. Riley; (1) Henya (41.56)
(1) Akinmusire (t); Bill Frisell (g); Herlin Riley (d). 2023. (2) as (1) but omit Riley. (3) as (1) but omit Frisell.
Nonesuch 0075597901856