BIG EARS

Ambrose Akinmusire

During his career, Ambrose Akinmusire has paradoxically situated himself in both the center and the periphery of jazz, most recently emerging in classical and hip hop circles. He’s on a perpetual quest for new paradigms, masterfully weaving inspiration from other genres, arts, and life in general into compositions that are as poetic and graceful as they are bold and unflinching.

He has proven himself an artist of rare ability and wide-ranging aesthetic interests on his Blue Note albums When the Heart Emerges Glistening (2011), the imagined savior is far easier to paint (2014), A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (2017), and Origami Harvest (2018). With on the tender spot of every calloused moment (2020), Akinmusire reaches a new pinnacle on an album of gorgeous, shape-shifting art that is a study of the blues in a contemporary context.

His unorthodox approach to sound and composition make him a regular on critics polls and have earned him grants and commissions from the Doris Duke Foundation, the MAP Fund, the Kennedy Center, and the Monterey Jazz Festival, amongst others. While Akinmusire continues to garner accolades, his reach is always beyond—himself, his instrument, genre, form, preconceived notions, and anything else imposing limitations.

Motivated primarily by the spiritual and practical value of art, Akinmusire wants to remove the wall of erudition surrounding his music. He aspires to create richly textured emotional landscapes that tell the stories of the community, record the time, and change the standard. While committed to continuing the lineage of black invention and innovation, he manages to honor tradition without being stifled by it.

Akinmusire plays a pair of concerts at Big Ears: the first featuring his long-running and finely honed quartet, and another showcasing a special new trio project with pianist Kris Davis and drummer Gerald Cleaver.

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BIG EARS
Knoxville, TN · USA

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