Jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch played with a sonic sucker punch

Jaimie Branch passed away at the age of 39 and was a renowned international trumpeter with a demotic sense of humor to unusual music. On stage, in loose clothes and sporting distinctive caps for baseball, she was known to be bold, swaggering, and humorously profane and foul-mouthed – which is evident in the sucker punch that sounded from her playing. “Playing with the trumpet feels like singing with your spirit,” she said. “When you’re playing, your entire body feels like it’s glowing up.”

In Long Island, New York in the summer of 1983, she began piano lessons at age three and began playing trumpet at age nine. She had her first mentor as a mariachi in Chicago. “It meant I was taught to play loud and with lots of vibratos,” she explained. She was later able to lower the volume of her vibrato, but her forthright explosive delivery was still. She was a big fan of grunge and punk music Nirvana, the Descendents, NOFX, and Minor Threat during her teenage years and these hardcore influences frequently infused her jazz.

When she moved to the northern part of Chicago in her teens, she began to take music more seriously. Being the sole female trumpeter of the school’s orchestra, she felt there was a need to prove herself and stand out from everyone else. After a chance encounter with trumpeter John McNeil, she was invited to join the New England Conservatory of Music where she took lessons from such as guitar player Joe Morris and the celebrated saxophonist Steve Lacy, and improved her classical technique by working with The Boston Symphony’s Charles Schlueter. She then was a student at Towson University in Baltimore, where she also delved into in production and sound engineering.

It was not until she began studying on East Coast that Branch began to discover Chicago’s rich left-field jazz scene the foundations that were established by groups like The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ken Vandermark and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. It is in Chicago that Branch discovered her true voice. “Everyone was playing music at a top level, but it was not motivated by the ego,” she said. “I found myself drawn towards it, in an emotional and emotional way. I wanted to be part of this music scene.” The singer was taught by tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson. club proprietor Fred Anderson (“he’d let me play and hang around at a jazz club named”the Velvet Lounge, on the conditions that I could not drink alcohol, since I was young”) as well as other older musicians like the drummer Frank Rosaly and saxophonist Matana Roberts. She began playing with bassist Jason Ajemian, Keefe Jackson’s Project Project and the New Fracture Quartet, and the New Fracture Quartet, as well as a variety of alt-rock groups. Her playing began to evolve into a playful style that was infused with pure power and intensity.

Branch was also enthralled by the exuberant German trumpeter Axel Dorner, and pestered him with advice after watching the duo perform in Chicago (he remembers “a punk chick in a Ramones T-shirt, a reversed baseball cap, and cut-off jeans, asking for some instruction”). In the years following Dorner, she began to explore advanced techniques like multiphonics, circular breathing, and even. Branch was often live using two microphones, one of which produced a crisp sound, and the second connected to a reverb-soaked FX system that amplified the resonant bass of her trumpet.