Ambrose Akinmusire – The Musician Behind the Miles Davis Experience

by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
A unique exciting new production is coming to Bend on October 27. The Miles Davis Experience: 1949 – 1959, is an immersive musical historical production aimed at recapturing the period, sound, historical cultural context through the sounds of jazz music’s Miles Davis. The show will feature Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet along with the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet: Walter Smith, Sam Harris, Harish Raghavan Justin Brown.
Akinmusire has turned his love of the trumpet his passion for perfection into an astonishing professional career that began at the age of 19. Ten years on, he has been named trumpeter of the year up coming artist of the year in 2011 by the Jazz Journalists Association. The Miles Davis Experience will showcase the innovation, skill passion Akinmusire has developed as well as take the audience through Davis’s musical development within the context of post-war America.
I had the opportunity to speak to Akinmusire as he was preparing for the dem ing three month tour schedule around the country:
How did you first get involved in the Miles Davis Experience?
CAMI Music [Columbia Artists Music LLC] approached Blue Note Records [American label releasing jazz recordings since the 1950s] had already started developing the project when I was asked to join in. I said yes work on the show started about eight to nine months ago.
How have you been influenced by Miles Davis?
Every jazz musician has been influenced by Miles Davis. For me, Miles Davis is an example of how artists should live their careers, he constantly reinvented himself as a musician.
Did you learn anything new about Miles Davis while working so intensely on the project?
No, I had researched Miles Davis thoroughly as a young musician. I think it’s great to be able to have this experience. People are expecting me to play like him during that time period, but I don’t think Miles would want me to play like him. I will play his music, but play it like me I will also play some original compositions.
What drew you to the trumpet?
In fifth grade, I played the drums beat up the walls like crazy, so my mother asked me to find another instrument. I had a few instruments to choose from, I chose the trumpet because it had three buttons I thought it would be easy to play. I was wrong! And my mother realized I chose the loudest instrument of them all.
How did it become your passion?
I have the type of personality where I want to be the best at whatever I do. I fell in love with the challenge of playing the trumpet have practiced almost every day since I started at 12 years old.
How do you h le the dem ing schedule of playing almost every day for three months?
I h le it differently from the rest of the group members. I try not to know what is going on, I play my music every day, it happens to be in a different location. I take it day to day as a lifestyle I eat no gluten, no rice or pork, I meditate try to live healthily. I am 29 now have to make an effort to take care of myself. As a trumpet player, my lips lungs are directly influenced by my body health. Maintaining a certain body weight staying in good health is an enormous factor in my trumpet playing. Even water, I can tell a difference in my playing if I am dehydrated.
How do you describe your style?
My style, to be honest, is not trying to control anything. I have this belief that music is living, was here before will be here after trying to control it is ignorant. I just submit to it.
Tell me a little about your Quartet.
The quartet as is has been playing together since April when we got a new pianist, Harris, but we have known each other for 14 – 15 years. Smith, the tenor sax, I have known each other for ten years, I’ve known Raghavan who plays bass for six or seven years it influences our music because we trust each other. We can talk to each other criticize each other learn from each other. It’s important to be able to do that with yourself as well. We love each other like to play together. We are not going to sound like Miles Davis from 1949 – 1959, we don’t want to try mimic his sound.
What do you do when you aren’t playing music?
I’m a furious practicer, I never really feel like I’m finished. I feel like I should always be playing. I read a bit, have an accordion guitar that I play a bit, but I’m a perfectionist. I don’t really believe in hobbies because I want to be great at what I do, hobbies are for things you don’t want to be great at.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I like anything creative. Justin West to Flying Lotus, a futuristic DJ from LA whose music sounds like techno meets hip hop. I like creative hip hop, Tyler the Creator, Bjork, Joni Mitchell, music that is creative beautiful.
What direction would you like to take your music in the future?
There are some people I would like to collaborate with like Flying Lotus Joanna Newsom, I would like to play with more singers start composing for more classical music. Bend Surgery Center’s CenterStage Series, Showcase Sponsor:  Mountain View Heating, Supporting Sponsors: Central Oregon Radiology & Deschutes Brewery. October 27, 7:30pm. $30 / $35, All Seats Reserved.

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