Ambrose Akinmusire: Owl Song review | John Fordham’s jazz album of the month

The California-raised trumpet virtuoso provides a balming trio album to counter our information overload

The news that Ambrose Akinmusire likes owls comes as no surprise once you start pondering the watchful patience and swooping accuracy of this California-raised trumpet virtuoso’s jazz creativity for the past 15 years. Showered with plaudits in that time (with comparisons with Miles Davis often among them), Akinmusire shares Miles’ belief that less is more. He called this beautiful trio album Owl Song because his favourite birds’ cool occupancy of their world mirrors this project’s search for space and precious time in a clamorous human habitat he considers “assaulted by information”.

Akinmusire could have just played Owl Song as an ambient reverie in duo with his legendarily harmonious guitar partner Bill Frisell – but it’s the mix of that vibe and the quietly swinging jazz grooves of sometime Wynton Marsalis drummer Herlin Riley that casts Owl Song’s particular spell. Version one of the title track opens to the whispering breeze of Riley’s brushes pulsing above soft bass drum thuds, before a slow trumpet theme of warm low sounds and long-tone falsetto resolutions is caressed by Frisell’s echoing guitar chords.

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