the imagined savior is far easier to paint

the imagined savior is far easier to paint

The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint is an ambitious, expansive work. It’s also one of the best albums of 2014. Akinmusire worked on a broad canvas on 2011’s When the Heart Emerges Glistening, but here the Oakland native stretches out even more. It’s striking how so many elements—strings, various vocalists, Mellotron, spoken word, electronics, his expanded quintet—hang together in such an unforced way. Savior starts with “Marie Christie,” a duet for Akinmusire’s assertive trumpet and Sam Harris’ quietly rippling piano. The outstanding “Our Basement (Ed)” finds Becca Stevens’ vocals shaded by The Osso String Quartet, piano, and trumpet. On the mellow and melancholy “Vartha,” guitarist Charles Altura turns in a flowing, lucid solo. Theo Bleckmann’s singing is run through effects on “Asiam (Joan),” where the band create an impressionist background that melds with the gorgeous vocal tones. “Ceaseless Inexhaustible Child (Cyntoia Brown)” rivets thanks to the intense vocals of Cold Specks, and “Richard (Conduit),” a 16-minute instrumental recorded live at the Jazz Standard in New York, closes the album.

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