Ambrose Akinmusire

The Blue Note All-Stars released their official debut, Our Point of View, not quite a month ago, and one key takeaway from the album was the enduring shadow cast by Wayne Shorter.

Every musician in the group, from trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to guitarist Lionel Loueke, is a student of Shorter’s legacy as a composer. The album features a brisk reworking of his “Witch Hunt,” from the 1966 album Speak No Evil, and Shorter even makes a cameo — along with a musical soul mate, Herbie Hancock — on a spooky version of “Masqualero.”

NPR

Almost every era of jazz has its resident Blue Note crew: artists who embody the beating heart of that label’s sound.

John Rogers / For NPR

Before Mary Halvorson became the critic's choice for jazz guitar, she was excelling as a biology student at Wesleyan University, until she met one formidable professor.


Jure Pukl

The tune was familiar yet unfamiliar, an iconic object seen through a funhouse prism. It was “El Manisero,” the bedrock Cuban standard, refurbished with shadowy postbop harmony and a rolling montuno in 18/8 time. Portillo & Cauce was playing to a packed house at La Zorra y el Cuervo, one of the leading jazz clubs in Havana, and they couldn’t have sounded sleeker or more modern.

Pierrick Guidou

Earlier this year, trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire held a weeklong engagement at the Village Vanguard with his excellent working quartet, featuring pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown. They recorded portions of the gig for what will be a double album.

That album — A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard, due out on Blue Note on June 9 — consists of 14 original compositions across a wide dynamic and expressive range. It opens with a pensive anthem called “Maurice and Michael (sorry I didn’t say hello),” which has a melody full of gulping intervals, over a rhythmic thrum that suggests the insistent tick of a clock, or a swaying metronome.

Ambrose Akinmusire
Autumn de Wilde / Courtesy of the artist

Ambrose Akinmusire has accrued many achievements in the last decade, since his first-place finish at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. But he hasn’t yet made a live album at the Village Vanguard, a rite of passage for so many of his precursors. That all changes this week — and judging by his quartet’s superb hourlong set on Sunday night, the results will be worth pursuing.