Thursday, June 08, 2017

Jamie Branch - Fly or Die (International Anthem, 2017)

Jamie Branch is a trumpet player and composer who has spent quite a bit of time in the fertile Chicago jazz scene. Like most of the best music from this city, her music is neither avant-garde nor straight-ahead, but a sophisticated amalgam of accessible themes and open ended improvisations. On this album she is joined by fellow city alumni Tomeka Reid on cello, Jason Ajemian on bass and Chad Taylor on drums. Sitting in at various times on the recording are by Matt Schneider on guitar and Ben Lamar Gay and Josh Berman on cornet. The record they create is short, but packs quite a wallop on tracks like "Theme 001" where scraping cello and thick bass create an excellent launching pad for a strident trumpet solo framed by subtle sparks of sharp and crisp percussion which creates a complex rhythmic environment that provides fertile ground for improvising. Branch's trumpet solo has a strong physical edge to it, with weighty power and dignity propelling it. The music is energetic and kinetic, containing the mass of a full, ripe sound that allows it to be quite effective. "Theme 002" takes up where that piece leaves off with memorable bass and drums rhythmic structure, and Branch moving into a solo that adds long tones of higher pitched sounds, building the power of the music carefully, establishing an interesting melody and then using this as the basis for a pithy improvisation. The music Branch leads is confident and proud, and capable of it's own unique genetic signature. The musicians bond tightly over the music and this leads to some very interesting collective playing. There is a clarion call of trumpet on "Theme Nothing" which is met with immediate support and encouragement from the rest of the band, and again they develop a rhythmic foundation for the music that allows for its development with shards of trumpet flashing amidst the open groove that the overall music establishes. There is an irresistibly funky section for cello, bass and drums before Branch returns and helps drive the music home with passion and grace. The music on this album worked quite well and the band plays with a great deal of rhythmic imagination, allowing the music to go from lyrical to abstract and back without a hitch. Jamie Branch is definitely a young talent on the rise, and her future is bright. Fly Or Die -

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