By James Hale | Published July 2017
Jazz might be evolving constantly, and its traditional distribution system in tatters, but for young musicians, leading a band into the Village Vanguard is still a trip to the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals rolled into one. What you and your bandmates bring to the stage can define your career for years to come.
At 35, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire no longer qualifies as a wunderkind, but a decade after winning the Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition, he seems poised to cement his position as a leader of his generation. (Coincidentally, John Coltrane was also 35 when he led his band into the Vanguard for a seminal recording in 1961.)
Rather than a sequential, as-it-happened set, the two-disc package features highlights with several set-ending climaxes. Regardless, the sequencing has its own logic, with the discs divided between free-ranging blowing and more linear pieces. Several of the most exhilarating offerings, including the powerful opener “Maurice & Michael (Sorry I Didn’t Say Hello)” and the triumphant “Umteyo,” get their propulsive energy from long ostinatos, which Akinmusire channels in his ripe and meaty solos. For those still not familiar with his brand of contemporary small-group interaction, A Rift In Decorum is a reassuring document of a tight young band fulfilling a rite of passage.
A Rift In Decorum: Live At The Village Vanguard: Disc One: Maurice & Michael (Sorry I Didn’t Say Hello); Response; Moment In Between The Rest (To Curve An Ache); Brooklyn (ODB); A Song To Exhale To (Diver Song); Purple (Intermezzo); Trumpet Sketch (Milky Pete). (60:44) Disc Two: Taymoor’s World; First Page (Shabnam’s Poem); H.A.M.S. (In The Spirit Of Honesty); Piano Sketch (Sam Intro); Piano Sketch (Beyond Enclosure); Condor; Withered; Umteyo. (49:10)
Personnel: Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Sam Harris, piano; Harish Raghavan, bass; Justin Brown, drums.