Lawrence Jazz Series welcomes the Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet

Incorporating modern classical, vanguard pop and spoken word, composer and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire brings his unique brand of modern jazz to Lawrence University’s Jazz Series.

Trumpet player Ambrose Akimusire

The Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet performs Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel. Tickets, at $30/$25 for adults, $25/$20 for seniors and $20/$18 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Joining Akinmusire on stage will be pianist Sam Harris, bass player Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown.

Winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2007, Akinmusire, 33, released his first album, “Prelude to Cora,” the following year. His second album, “The Heart Emerges Glistening,” released in 2011 on Blue Note Records, drew rave reviews. After being named Downbeat magazine’s Rising Star Jazz Artist of the Year in 2011 and Trumpet Player of the Year in 2012, Akinmusire moved to the forefront of progressive jazzmen, becoming one of the most buzzed-about artists of his generation.

“The first time I heard Ambrose, I was completely captivated, enchanted by his warm, huge, beautiful trumpet sound,” said Jose Encarnacion, director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program. “He speaks from the heart. His musical stories will take you places you have never imagined. This will be a musical experience not to be missed.”

His most recent album, 2014’s “The Imagined Savior Is Easier to Paint,” was compared to Mark Rothko paintings by NPR music critic Ann Powers, who described it as “large, filling every corner of the frame, yet calm, spacious, their colors connected in subtle gradations.”

On “The Imagined Savior,” Akinmusire flexed his composition talents, drawing inspiration from a local homeless man in his neighborhood, a 16 year-old imprisoned young woman and police brutality. He collaborated with numerous vocalists on the album, giving each an outline of the music and allowing them to create their own lyrics.

“He speaks from the heart. His musical stories will take you places you have never imagined.”
— Jose Encarnacion, director of LU’s jazz studies program

In the track “Rollcall for Those Absent,” a young girl reads the names of numerous African-American men and women killed by police.

Having a young voice read the names, according to Akinmusire, was “like the beginning of life talking about the end of life. I wanted to capture that.”

A native of Oakland, Calif., Akinmusire began playing the trumpet professionally while still in high school, touring Europe with the Five Elements band.  He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Along the way, he studied with trumpet luminaries Terence Blanchard, the late Lew Soloff and the late master teacher Laurie Frink.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.