Top in 20 best trumpet-led album: Ambrose Akinmusire, On The Tender Spot Of Every Calloused Moment, Blue Note

Top and best trumpet-led album in 2020: Ambrose Akinmusire, On The Tender Spot Of Every Calloused Moment. Some albums have a weight and a dignity to them whether intended or not and certainly this new album from Ambrose Akinmusire has both …

Published: 27 Nov 2020. Updated: 17 months.

Top and best trumpet-led album in 2020: Ambrose Akinmusire, On The Tender Spot Of Every Calloused Moment. Some albums have a weight and a dignity to them whether intended or not and certainly this new album from Ambrose Akinmusire has both attributes. The trumpeter has something to say on all these tracks and I suppose it is mood and space he is so masterful at providing, all that and his incredibly pure trumpet sound, a big range and when he penetrates the really high regions he manages not just to middle every note but to find an interpretative voice, like an actor finds a new character and that is why there is so much drama to his work with his longstanding band, drummer Justin Brown, pianist Sam Harris and bassist Harish Raghavan.

He is a tragedian. In that mask there is a life wisdom and you get that on this important record. To pick one tiny detail that enlarges to reveal a vista: 'Roy' like a hymn is gorgeous. It is a tribute to Roy Hargrove and like the whole record knows the meaning of the blues and yet it's the blues you've never heard in your life before and works on so many different levels, often a highly avant garde statement yet delivered by using a communicative method expressed through the discipline of improvisation inherent in the freedom and DNA of jazz, that thing about hurt, and triumph over it, runs through the album like a watermark. Photo: Blue Note

marlbank albums of the year will be published on Thursday 31 December round midnight

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Top in 20 Best Standards: Kandace Springs, The Women Who Raised Me, Blue Note

Top and best in 2020 for standards: In a few brief years Kandace Springs has become the female singer to turn to for her fresh way with classic jazz material and this surpasses all that has gone before. There is the quality and the sheer quantity. …

Published: 27 Nov 2020. Updated: 17 months.

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Top and best in 2020 for standards: In a few brief years Kandace Springs has become the female singer to turn to for her fresh way with classic jazz material and this surpasses all that has gone before.

There is the quality and the sheer quantity. Opening with 'Devil May Care' featuring Christian McBride there is a frisson, a lifeforce and that continues through in the personality she brings throughout to her loosely constructed tribute to female singers from Ella Fitzgerald to Sade to Billie Holiday.

Guests include a heroine of hers, Norah Jones, on a well caught treatment of 'Angel Eyes' although you don't turn at least yet to Springs for a distillation of darkness, yet it's lightning in a bottle because whatever the song she will find a way to make it work even if against the odds.

David Sanborn is on 'I Put a Spell on You' begun by Kandace on piano leaning in to the 'Moonlight Sonata' and using it as a counter melody against the Screamin' Jay Hawkins melody before Sanborn comes in with a superb crash and burns the place down. While Kandace is not like Nina Simone as a singer at all, there is much less of a shout and a violence in her sound, but there is a lot of range and a lot of passion that speaks to the listener as if it is their song.

'Pearls' is beautiful, a world away from the designer lounge sound Sade cultivated. Among the guests it's encouraging that flautist Elena Pinderhughes gets some new profile here and yet 'Ex-Factor' isn't such a stop the traffic track, but she adds an extra dimension to 'Killing Me Softly' a big highlight too for the vocal treatment. Pinderhughes I think needs more of a Bobbi Humphrey-type production in the future to make her big statement when someone gives her a big deal if that in the end comes. Trumpeter Avishai Cohen makes some telling contributions, you won't have heard him on any record the way he comes over here. It is staggering how much content there is on the album with multiple points of entry. Chris Potter is used well on the samba 'Gentle Rain' and keeping 'Strange Fruit' to last for impact was a good idea, the most serious song after all that Kandace navigates fairly well in its chilling indictment of raw racism. With her slight country lilt and the sheer joy she summons up from within her she has become one of the new greats on this evidence. Best jazz-vocals record since Liquid Spirit.

marlbank albums of the year will be published on Thursday 31 December round midnight