Music News & Reviews

Jazz Town: Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire brings the sound of things to come to Blue Room

Ambrose Akinmusire will play Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Blue Room.
Ambrose Akinmusire will play Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Blue Room. From the artist

Just like other parts of popular culture, the jazz world is forever looking for the elusive Next Big Thing.

Ideally, that will be a player who brings something new to the table — someone who will become widely influential, someone bound to last, someone whose name will be written into the history books.

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, a young man who seems to have a very old and wise soul, emerged almost a decade ago and quickly became the subject of that Next Big Thing talk. Fortunately for all, Akinmusire (ah-kin-MOO-sir-ee), who brings his group to the Blue Room on Thursday, has continued to sound as if he actually deserves that kind of talk.

We all know the drill with Next Big Things. Few of them ever pass the test. They pop up, they draw attention and then they fade when an even newer Next Big Thing comes along. This one, however, continues to show signs that he’s going to stick around.

Akinmusire, whose deep trumpet sound lingers in the ear long after the last note has sounded, has been through Kansas City before. The first time was in 2008, the year after he won the Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition, when he appeared at the Blue Room as a sideman with Kansas City friend Logan Richardson on alto sax and jazz veteran Billy Hart on drums. And that was enough to demonstrate how all that Next Big Thing talk got started.

He’s since been back through town twice, in a stage production dedicated to the music of Miles Davis at Johnson County Community College and as part of an all-star package that played at the Gem Theater. But this Blue Room appearance is the first time he’s come to town to play his own music with his own band, unfettered.

It just might be the Next Big Thing in its purest form.

The show is at 7 p.m. Thursday; tickets are $15.


▪ The collaboration of trumpeter Stan Kessler and guitarist Danny Embrey, which they’re calling the Kessler-Embrey Conspiracy, performs at 8 p.m. Friday at the Art Factory, 5621 W. 135th St., Suite 2630, in Overland Park’s PrairieFire development.

▪ Trombonist Brian Scarborough’s group performs at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Westport CoffeeHouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave.

▪ The Blue Room also has the collaboration of bassist Bob Bowman and tenor saxophonist Matt Otto, Ottobow, on the jam session at 7 p.m. Monday; singer Ida McBeth at 8:30 p.m. Friday; and a whole raft of vocalists when the University of North Texas Jazz Singers perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has pianist Paul Shinn’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m.; the Shinn trio again at 8 p.m. Monday; the group Dojo at 8 p.m. Tuesday; the New Jazz Order big band at 7 p.m. Wednesday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by saxophonist Brett Jackson’s quartet at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by OJT again at 8:30 p.m. and organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and OJT again at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751