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Live Review: Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet

13 January 2014 | 2:48 pm | Lorin Reid

The quintet were tight and meditative, offering five often separate strains of jazz to wrap your head around that somehow moved as one, coming together in a frenzy on the last beat to redefine sound.

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The quintet began with piano – delicate, cinematic and dripping with emotion. Soon it was accompanied by double bass, drums, tenor sax and, to complete the collection, Akinmusire on trumpet.
What followed was a riveting blur of new age jazz fraught with solos on trumpet and sax, from runs and jumps to a piercingly high register, to deep musings, full of fluid movement.
The third song, Regret No More, was a serene ballad duet between piano and trumpet where Akinmusire was producing something like tremolo on trumpet, which brought the crowd to a frenzy. He grabbed a mic to back announce the first few songs and mentioned his disappointment at not having seen a kangaroo yet despite this being the final performance of their first time in Australia.
A new composition with no title followed and was super impressive, with all instruments following the staccato rhythm of the drums in unison for the introduction and coda. Drummer Justin Brown gave an intense solo with lots of rolling tom-toms and startling snare. Gaining momentum and complexity, the solo went on past where the audience expected him to finish and in doing so garnered huge cheers.
Akinmusire apologised for not talking very much and getting on with it, which everyone was fine with, and launched into another little set that showcased the unity of trumpet and saxophone. As they played together, harmonising and improvising with ease, one explored arpeggios and complex runs while the other would play more of an accompaniment or bassline and then, totally organically, they would swap places, somehow arriving in unison at the end for a structured coda.
The quintet were tight and meditative, offering five often separate strains of jazz to wrap your head around that somehow moved as one, coming together in a frenzy on the last beat to redefine sound.