Friday, June 27, 2014

Ambrose Akinmusire - The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint

So I decided I'd start doing some record reviews since people seem to like my thoughts about Jazz.

Because I refuse to actually purchase a Jazz album, I found Ambrose Akinmusire's new record available to stream free online since he's who the Jazz press seem to be pushing at the moment.  His new record is called 'The imagined Savior is far easier to paint' and it's on Blue Note records, a label that actually sold albums about 60 years ago.  I guess he's supposed to be the 'Jazz Savior' referenced in the title, even though in all the interviews I've seen he's refused to explain the title at all(classic pretentious Jazz move, love it.)  So if you go into the album thinking he's the 'Jazz savior' in question that will be your first of many disappointments.

The album starts out with them sound checking which I thought was pretty cool; Ambrose kind of noodling around and the piano player just kinda doing whatever…then after about 2 and a half minutes or so I realized that this was actually supposedly a song.  Shit, it's gonna be really tough getting through this whole album.

Next up they play a tune called "As we Fight."  Pretty sure there's zero chance of me getting this melody stuck in my head, which is nice since I don't like to have Jazz stuck in my head anyway.  It sounds like Ambrose is still figuring out how to play the changes of his own song, that's a cool Jazz thing musicians do….they like to keep it fresh that way by not rehearsing.  Mistakes are cool in Jazz even though mistakes are mistakes to the rest of us.  They all go around taking turns soloing…I get bored and fast forward ahead…I mean, you didn't actually expect me to really listen to this whole thing, did you?

After this comes a song called "Our Basement(ed)"..which I guess is about getting a shitty education in a basement or something since 'basement' isn't actually a verb and thus can't be put in the past tense.  "I had a great weekend, I spent it basementing" :/  Anyway, this song has Becca Stevens on it, she's singing about a homeless man or something.  It would make sense that a Jazz musician would feel so bonded to the homeless, after all they're really just one step away.  Ambrose continues to desperately try to find any note that fits the chord they're playing.  He fails.  The tracks ends with Ambrose and Becca doing some weird quasi-sexual moans…I say quasi because I'm more confused than aroused.

It's about this time that I get kind of bored listening and go onto to see how many used copies are on sale.  "47 like new" and "15 used." ..I love it when critics and press folks sell all the free promotional albums they get.  Gotta make SOME money off this shitty Jazz biz, right?!?

The next few tracks kinda blend together.  The guitar player sounds like every jazz guitar player I've ever heard, I'd include his name but I don't care enough to look it up.  Ambrose takes the same exact solo a couple more times in case you hadn't gotten sick of it yet.  I get bored and check my email.  Ambrose does a pretty sweet impression of a dolphin on 'The Beauty of dissolving portraits", so there's that.  Then Theo Blackman shows up for a track.  I get suspicious and google-search him, he's white. Talk about false-advertising.  More rubato simmering…endless rubato simmering.

yada yada .. bass solo you can't expect me to actually listen to… yada yada .. more rubato simmering .. yada yada…some generic "soulful" singing by someone else who apparently wandered into the studio that day.  Really trying hard to get through this thing.  Next shit gets really weird when a baby shows up to read a bunch of names.  I'm not even joking, that's actually an entire track.  Then there's a little pause while they re-tune the piano and trumpet…wait, this might be a song…impossible to tell..