Name: jaimie branch
Nationality: American
Occupation: Trumpet player, sound artist, improviser, composer
Current release & event: jaimie branch and Jason Nazary team up for Anteloper's Pink Dolphins, available via International Anthem June 17, 2022.

[Read our Jason Nazary of Anteloper interview]

They've just embarked on a tour through Europe and the USA & Canada:

May 19 Brussels, Belgium @ Ancienne Belgique
May 20 Wels, Austria @ Alter Schlachthof Wels
May 21 Hall, Austria @ Kulturlabor Stromboli
May 22 Forli, Italy @ Area Sismica
May 23 Zurich, Switzerland @ Moods
May 25 Bern, Switzerland @ Bee-Flat
May 27 Lyon, France @ Le Periscope
May 28 Dresden, Germany @ Jazzclub Tonne
May 29 Torino, Italy - Jazz Is Dead Festival @ Bunker Torino

June 17 Keene, NH @ Nova Arts
June 18 Portsmouth, NH @ Press Room
June 21 Washington DC @ Rhizome
June 26 Vancouver, BC Canada - Vancouver Jazz Festival @ Iron Works
June 27 Edmonton, AB Canada - Edmonton Jazz Festival @ Night Club 9910
July 06 Toronto, ON, Canada @ Baby G
July 07 Detroit, MI @ Tangent Gallery
July 08 Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
July 09 Columbia, MO - Stephens Lake Amphitheater @ Dismal Niche
July 10 Iowa City, IA - Trumpet Blossom @ Feed Me Weird Things
July 11 Rock Island, IL @ Rozz-Tox
July 12 St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
July 13 Madison, WI - BlueStem Jazz Presents @ Bur Oak
July 14 Louisville, KY @ Decca
July 15 Pittsburgh, PA @ Collision
July 16 Brooklyn @ Public Records

August 26 Nantes, France @ Festival Rendez vous de l’Erdre
August 27 Strasbourg, France - Festival Meteo @ Motoco
August 28 Cambridgeshire, UK @ We Out Here Festival
August 29 London, UK @ Cafe Oto
October 08 Milano, Italy @ Teatro dell’Arte
October 19 Ludwigshafen, Germany @ Kulturzentrum Das Haus

For more information, visit Anteloper's official instagram account or jamie branch's website

When did you first start getting interested in musical improvisation?

As young as I can remember I would find myself improvising on any instruments that I could get my hands on … of course I didn’t know that was what I was doing per se.  

In “jazz band” (their label, not mine) I remember improvising a solo in front of the band and I remember the rush I got from that … I was hooked right away - musically and chemically speaking.

Which artists, approaches, albums or performances involving prominent use of improvisation captured your imagination in the beginning?

Miles Davis is a crucial influence, these are the albums that I was obsessed with.

Somewhat chronologically (in my obsession) and with many exemptions:

"’58 sessions feat. stella by starlight,"
“kind of blue”/“birth of the cool,"
"miles smiles,"
“bitches brew,"
“jack johnson,”
 “water babies,”
“Live at the Plugged Nickel,"
"Miles in the Sky,"
"Big Fun,"
"Cellar Door Sessions" …

I mean every Miles is important listening.

Also you gotta listen to every Don Cherry record. Speaking of Don, the Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry front line was a huge eye opener and I thought "Shape of Jazz to Come" was a brand new record the first time I heard it … in 1999, 40 years after it actually came out!

The records I am checking out of his today are re-issues or first ever issues of when he lived over in europe in the 70’s. "Mu First Part" and "Mu Second Part" are great trumpet / drum duo records - Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell - whew!

Another pairing that blew my mind open was Eric Dolphy and Booker Little - specifically the Live at the 5 Spot Vol. 1+2 - both are required listening.

Also Evan Parker Trio, “Atlanta.” That whole record is wild.

Cecil Taylor - “Stereo Drive," Joe Morris, Roscoe Mitchell especially “Sound,” Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra “Super-Sonic Jazz,” “Lanquidity," Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus “Black Saint and the Sinner Lady,” “UCLA Concert,”Let My Children Hear Music" ...

Liberation Music Orchestra - Ballad of the fallen

John Coltrane “Newport ’63,” “ballads,”A Love Supreme,” “OM” … I mean again, it’s all important listening.

Focusing on improvisation can be an incisive transition. Aside from musical considerations, there can also be personal motivations for looking for alternatives. Was this the case for you, and if so, in which way?

I came up playing in the Chicago scene, in Chicago, we improvise, it’s not any sort of alternative, it’s the way.

Tell me about your instrument and/or tools, please. How would you describe the relationship with it? What are its most important qualities and how do they influence the musical results and your own performance?  

I use a Bach Stradivarius 72 bell ML bore trumpet, the same one I’ve had since 2008. It’s from the mid 90s or so - and has been on every album I’ve put out to this point under my own name, so, we close. The horn I had prior to this one was stolen in late 2007 so it was a big deal when I copped this horn.

A 72 bell is bigger than the norm and makes for a wide range of expression. She is bright up top and has a warm low end - she’s also tough, which is pretty key as we’ve been in some precarious situations together. In Anteloper I also rock a juno 106 and got a lil mixer with an FX chain which at any given point may include moogerfoogers, loopers, a 404, and the green guy (a DL4 delay / looper not weed, although I’m also usually smoking weed).

The equipment, while important, don’t make the sound. Without loopers though, I would need to grow more arms and faces, so they definitely help.

Can you talk about a work, event or performance in your career that's particularly dear to you? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

There was a defining piece of improvised music that I performed in summer 2005.

The band was two basses, two trumpets, and Evan Parker. At one point during the performance (the whole performance was less than 15 mins for sure) the other instruments faded away and left just me and Evan Parker. Those 30 seconds of duo realigned my atomic make up. Things were not the same after that. I was pushed and also pushed myself in a way that was new and so I had different expectations from then on ... it was a good day.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your collaborations? Do you feel as though you are able to express yourself more fully in solo mode or, conversely, through the interaction with other musicians? Are you “gaining” or “sacrificing” something in a collaboration?

I approach solo playing and group playing in the same manner. It’s listening first and always and then making strong decisions.

When playing solo you have to be even more tuned in to the sound world, ‘cuz it’s just you and checking out isn’t an option, really.

Derek Bailey defined improvising as the search for material which is endlessly transformable. Regardless of whether or not you agree with his perspective, what kind of materials have turned to be particularly transformable and stimulating for you?

I mean rhythm, melody, harmony, and sound is kinda everything. And it’s fun to take these things and spin 'em around and rewire them and make 'em dance in real time.

On any given day the materials change but the experimentation continues, dig?

When you're improvising, does it actually feel like you're inventing something on the spot – or are you inventively re-arranging patterns from preparations, practise or previous performances?

I’m trying to play what I hear. Invention is slippery, what I’m going for is a fluid mutability and I care much more about exchanging energies and building comets of sound to being the first.

To you, are there rules in improvisation?

Yeah at least 100 rules

#1: listen

#2 - 99: listen

#100: make strong decisions

In a live situation, decisions between creatives often work without words. How does this process work – and how does it change your performance compared to a solo performance?

Well, listening, but there’s also an energy component - the personalities and playing styles of the people making the musics will always effect the outcome of the sound.

The sound is the map. Where you go depends on the openness and trust within the players. Shared looks also happen and can be very informative.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? In which way is it different between your solo work and collaborations?

The highest realm of creativity is achieved during performance (usually during performance and definitely rare), when your ego dissapears fully and maybe only a slight reflection of the performance is remembered because you were so in the moment that memories couldn’t fully form.

As a performer and a human I can’t but help to gauge my playing - but usually when I felt things went terribly or awesome I’m mistaken. That’s why I care a lot more about exchanging energies than playing well these days.

What is playing good anyways? It’s a judgemen t… and I don’t really have time for that.

How do you see the relationship between sound, space and performance and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?

Ya gotta play the room, ya gotta listen and ya gotta have some fun. that’s kinda the trifecta.

In a way, improvisations remind us of the transitory nature of life. What, do you feel, can music and improvisation express and reveal about life and death?

Playing music is of the most holy practices because it puts beauty back into the earth. improvised musics is moment musics. fleeting and brief but encapsulates everything at once.

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" - in theaters now!!!