Jaimie Branch

Jaimie Branch, a Trumpeter, was born in Wilmette. She moved to Chicago in the summer 2001 just before she went to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory of Music. But she wasn’t able to make her jazz debut until she took a semester off to heal from a gallbladder problem. The 21-year old spent the second half of 2004 in Chicago and quickly established herself as a formidable force. Her knowledge and skills impressed musicians much older than her. Keefe Jackson, a reedist, says that she was struck by her enthusiasm and interest in all the right music. “She was quick to give us an opinion on free jazz and improvised music, as well as other styles. It seemed that she was an avid listener and a true sponge. Branch discovered recordings of German trumpeter Axel Dorner while at NEC. He transforms his instrument into an abstract sound generator by using a variety extended techniques. She jumped at the chance to see him at The Empty Bottle in September 2004, and after the show, she convinced him to give her an individual lesson. Dorner was with Fred Lonberg–Holm, cellist. The lesson took place in his basement. Lonberg-Holm recalled, “I went into my room, and I heard a trumpet. But it wasn’t Axel.” It sounded great. “But it sounded really good. I’m the son of a trumpet player, and a terrible trumpet player, so I know how difficult it can be. I’m also very picky. So I asked Branch to join me at the next opportunity that I had. Branch was invited by him to join his Lightbox Orchestra at the Phrenology Festival. This is an improvised music gathering at The Hungry Brain. Branch was one of many rising stars in Chicago’s music scene, including Jackson, Josh Berman, Frank Rosaly, the drummer, and vibraphone player Jason Adasiewicz. All of them worked at Jazz Record Mart and Branch was hired. She was soon a member of a vibrant musical community, even though it would be almost a year before her studies were completed and she moved back to Chicago. Her prospects looked bright after Branch moved to Chicago. She was invited to perform at the Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York by Dave Douglas, a trumpeter who is almost an institution. She was just 24 years old when she shared a bill with veterans like Jeremy Pelt and Butch Morris. Branch was a regular performer back home in various ensembles including Keefe Jackson’s Project Project and Tim Daisy’s New Fracture Quartet. There were also a number of other ad-hoc formations. Her own working bands included free-improvising collective Princess, Princess (with Rosaly and bassist Toby Summerfield) and noisy rock group Muske from www.chicagoreader.com

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