Sounds Like: Art Ensemble of Chicago jamming at an art-punk loft
Why You Should Pay Attention: Chicago-reared, NYC-based trumpeter Jaimie Branch has played with the likes of Spoon, TV on the Radio and Belle Orchestre. After 10 years of being down to jam with jazz, post-rock and doom metal groups, Branch steps out with her assured debut album, Fly or Die, fronting a band featuring noted Chicago percussionist Chad Taylor and cellist-composer Tomeka Reid. The album expertly veers from sweet hooks, spacy interludes and free-jazz exploration, Branch's trumpet sparring with Reid's sawed cello, Taylor's crackling rhythms and even bits of acoustic guitar. Her horn veers everywhere from Cootie Williams-style growls to space-echo ambience.
She Says: "Both my brothers and my dad was a trumpet player, but I didn't really know that when I picked it up," Branch said of carrying on in the family tradition. Growing up in Chicago, she cut her teeth as part of what she deemed "a 10-piece traditional suburban punk ska band" as a teenager and later on became entranced by Chicago's legendary, still-vital jazz scene. "Chicago jazz has a homegrown attitude about it that's really DIY. They put on high-level concerts but at its roots, it's almost a punk aesthetic. The musicians put on the shows for other musicians. That's why it keeps perpetuating. It's at such a high level of energy." But for her album, she took inspiration not from classic jazz, but from an unlikely pop source: "I wanted it to be the length of Weezer's Pinkerton," she says, "where you can easily listen to it again and again."
Hear for Yourself: "Theme 0001" has a peppy and bright bounce. Andy Beta