“I think rifts are what make things beautiful,” muses Ambrose Akinmusire when asked about the title of his forthcoming A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard. The inimitable trumpeter/composer’s third release for Blue note records is a formidable double album that captures him and his longtime bandmates, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown, in peak form as they add to the long list of live albums made at the legendary venue.

The history was far from lost on the band. Commenting on it’s revered past, Akinmusire shared, “Justin and I have talked a lot about the spirits that we can feel in the Vanguard…It’s like I’m being bear-hugged by the spirits in there.”  It’s no understatement. Joining the likes of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans and the countless others who have left a bit of their soul in the space, Akinmusire and his band rise to the occasion and continue in the ground-breaking tradition. Though the energy in the room undoubtedly helped, the band brought plenty of their own.

Written and produced by Akinmusire, A Rift in Decorum presents 14 new original compositions with just the right concept for a live performance at the Vanguard. From the composer himself: “I’ve been really into exploring extremes. I take things that are really in your face and things that are so not in your face, and then it’s about rubbing those things together and hinting about a middle, or even questioning what a middle is. That’s what this quartet is about in my mind.”

This sort of boundary pushing thinking permeated multiple levels of the record, including the title for the album’s opener, which is available to stream or download now. “Maurice and Michael (sorry I didn’t say hello)” was written while Akinmusire was artist in residence at Monterey Jazz festival. According to him, “One day it hit me — wow, I have friends that are still over there in the hood who would never even know anything like this exists, so close by. Not long after that, I was on the BART home and I saw someone I grew up with named Maurice, who had a brother named Michael. I hadn’t seen them since high school. Maurice seemed to be on something, his eyes were red, he could barely walk, and I just couldn’t say hello. Here I am in some fancy suit with my expensive headphones and Moscot glasses, and this guy I grew up with looks like he’s homeless. It really affected me. I went through so many thoughts: ‘Do I think that I’m better?’ ‘Who am I to feel ashamed at whatever success I think I have?’”

This sort of questioning from both sides seems to be the conceptual core of A Rift in Decorum. Get a taste of it with “Maurice and Michael (sorry I didn’t say hello)”  below, and don’t miss the band when they come though town during their tour. You can find dates and locations under the track.

May 20 – Library of Congress – Washington DC
June 14 – SFJAZZ – San Francisco, CA
June 15 – SFJAZZ – San Francisco, CA
June 16 – Moss Theater – Los Angeles, CA
June 17 – Mission Theater – Portland, OR
June 18 – Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society – Half Moon Bay, CA
June 19 – Kuumbwa – Santa Cruz, CA
June 20 – Earshot Presents @ Poncho Concert Hall – Seattle, WA
June 21 – Athenaeum – San Diego, CA
June 22 – Dazzle – Denver, CO
June 29 – Montreal International Jazz Festival – Montreal, QC
July 1 – Ljubljana Jazz Festival – Ljubljana, Slovenia
July 2 – Cortile Osservatorio Civico Di Soresina – Sorellina, Italy
July 3 – Montreux Jazz Festival – Montreux, Switzerland
July 5 – Ronnie Scott’s – London, UK
July 6 – Ronnie Scott’s – London, UK
July 8 – Wigan Jazz Festival – Wigan, UK
July 9 – North Sea Jazz Festival – Rotterdam, The Netherlands
July 13 – Pori Jazz Festival – Pori, Finland
July 22 – Palatia Jazz – Bad Durkheim, Germany
July 24 – Wine & Jazz Festival – Bordeaux, France
July 25 – Langnau Jazz Nights – Langnau, Switzerland
July 27 – New Mexico Jazz Festival – Albuquerque, NM
July 29 – Stanford Jazz Festival – Stanford, CA
August 16 – EMPAC Rensselaer – Troy, NY
September 19-24 – Village Vanguard – New York, NY


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