AMN Reviews: Jaimie Branch – Fly or Die II – Bird Dogs of Paradise (2019; International Anthem)

Trumpeter Jaimie Branch’s 2017 debut release, Fly or Die, landed on numerous best-of lists for that year. She was praised for her ability to fluidly move between jazz styles, from the rock-oriented to the free-formed. On this sequel, she builds her legacy even further. Joined by Lester St. Louis on cello, Jason Ajemian on bass, and Chad Taylor on drums and percussion – as well as a handful of guests – Branch also performs electronics and contributes vocals.

The one piece that most easily stands out among the nine offerings on this album is Prayer for Amerikkka, a two-part jazz-oriented protest song on which Branch virulently and loudly decries the state of race relations and immigration in the United States. She is angry, not afraid to show it, and makes an iconic and timely statement.

But aside from that, Branch and company explore less weighty Latin-inflected tunes, long jams, and some knotty themes. Case in point, Twenty-Three-n-Me, Jupiter Redux begins with a catchy cello motif that transforms into Branch leading the group with electronics and quirky effects in the background. The track ends with a lengthy free-improv break. Simple Silver Surfer, on the other hand, showcases the bass and cello playing overlapping tunes accompanied by Taylor’s creative percussion, while Branch contributes a winsome melody.  Bird Dogs of Paradise is a half a compelling cello/bass drone, with the other half largely a Taylor drum solo.

Perhaps due to an unpredictable diversity, Fly or Die II is even harder to pigeonhole than its predecessor. Branch’s experimentalism is grounded and yet unrestricted. Her heavier topics are followed by playfulness. This is a release that we’ll be talking about for some time.

Newsbits: Glenn Branca / Éliane Radigue / Electroacoustic Music at Western Illinois

A posthumous Glenn Branca album is to be released soon.

The new Éliane Radigue box set is reviewed.

The Western Illinois University School of Music will present Electroacoustic Music Macomb 2019, curated by Hong-Da Chin, assistant professor of theory and composition, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 in the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Recital Hall. This performance will feature a composition by retired School of Music Professor James Caldwell, in addition to compositions by Carter John Rice, Carolyn Borcherding, Rob McClure, Jason Bolte and Mike McFerron.

Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph on Tour

Wednesday, September 25 at Bop Stop, 2920 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH.
Concert at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. For information call 216-771-6551 or visit

Thursday, September 26 at Cuyahoga Valley National Park Concert Series, Happy Days Lodge, 500 West Streetsboro St., State Route 303, Peninsula, OH.
Concert at 7 p.m. Tickets $21, members $17, students $10, kids free. For information visit

Friday, September 27 at Trinosophnes Concert Gallery, 1464 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, MI.
For information contact (313)778-9258 or visit

Saturday, September 28 at Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL.
Concert at 3 p.m. Free admission. For information visit

Sunday, September 29 at Mexicains Sans Frontieres, 120 South Division Avenue, #226, Grand Rapids, MI.
Concert at 6 p.m. For information visit

Tuesday, October 1 at Bop Shop Records, 1460 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY.
Concert at 8 p.m. Tickets $20, $15 students. For information call 585-271-3354 or visit

Friday, October 4 at Mandorla Music, Accurate Records Loft, 343 Medford St., Somerville, MA. Concert at 8 p.m. Club d’Elf opens. Tickets $20. For information visit or

With their new Karuna duet Drake and Rudolph bring their unique and evolved rhythm languages to the fore, reaching to inspire any audience though spirited dialogue. The name Karuna reflects their ongoing research into the connection of the inner life of musical expression and speaks to the idea of creative action as a gesture of compassion.

Blank Forms Concerts in October

Source: Blank Forms.

Akira Sakata with Darin Gray
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Wadada Leo Smith with Pheeroan akLaff, Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019
8:00 PM

Fred Moten
Saturday, October 5th, 2019
2:00 PM

Okkyung Lee
Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Henry Cow: The World Is a Problem Book Release
Friday, October 11th, 2019
6:30 PM

Joe McPhee
Saturday, October 12th, 2019
2:00 PM

Blank Forms Third Annual Benefit Honoring Ikue Mori and Arto Lindsay
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
7:00 PM

Book on Free Jazz In Japan Reviewed

Source: burning ambulance.

Teruto Soejima‘s Free Jazz In Japan: A Personal History is a book of this type. Originally published in 2002, it has finally been translated into English via Public Bath Press. Soejima, who died in 2014, was a critic who was also one of the earliest and strongest boosters of free jazz and avant-garde music in Japan. In 1969, he joined forces with guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, drummer Masahiko Togashi and pianist Masahiko Satoh to found the New Jazz Hall, Tokyo’s first venue dedicated to free jazz. Throughout his life, he viewed himself as an advocate as well as a critic. In addition to his writing, he booked tours, produced albums, and worked to present Japanese artists abroad (particularly at European festivals) and bring like-minded American artists to Japan. He was there from the beginning, and this book describes the struggle to find performance spaces and to build an audience — in one hilarious incident, a particularly loud Takayanagi performance is interrupted by an enraged chef from a nearby restaurant, who bursts in, knife in hand, to complain about the noise — but ultimately becomes a tale of triumph, as Japanese free jazz musicians develop international reputations and the music grows and blossoms.

Coming to Washington DC

On Saturday, September 21, 2019, the opening concert of ‘The Piano Trio: A Survey in 8 Concerts’, with the Milo Trio, featuring Celaya Kirchner on violin, Emma Hays Johnson on cello, and Carl Banner on piano, presenting a series of eight concerts devoted to exploring the history and development of the piano trio. This first concert explores the music of Haydn and Mozart. @Banner Arts, located at 7502 Flower Avenue, in Takoma Park, MD.

On Saturday, September 22, 2019, Bells & Bills for Bill, live music in support of our friend Bill Brower. Beginning with bassist Luke Stewart and friends. October 22nd is drummer Nasar Abadey and friends. November 24th is singer Sunny Sumpter and friends. And ending December 15th with Solo Pianists TBA. All in the Old Firehouse Studio, near Cottage City.

And on Friday, October 4, 2019, @Joe Chambers, M’Boom, his percussion ensemble of marimba, xylophone, tympani, vibes, bells, gongs, drum sets, and even a musical saw, featuring fellow percussionists, Ray Mantilla, Warren I. Smith, and Bobby Sanabria, along with the 16-piece Moving Pictures Orchestra and vocalist Mavis Swan Poole. @The Kennedy Center