Anthony Branker

Anthony Branker

Musicians | Instrument: Composer / conductor | Location: Trenton

With a unique combination of depth and accessibility, Branker is able to put forth a jazz perspective steeped in soulful optimism.

—All About Jazz

Updated: January 26, 2023

Born: August 28, 1958

Composer, conductor, and bandleader Anthony Branker is an Origin Records recording artist who was named in Down Beat magazine’s 63rd & 62nd Annual Critics Poll as a “Rising Star Composer.” Dr. Branker has nine releases in his fast growing and musically rich discography that include: What Place Can Be For Us? (Origin, 2023), Beauty Within (Origin, 2016), The Forward (Towards Equality) Suite (Origin, 2014), Uppity (Origin, 2013), Together (Origin, 2012), Dialogic (Origin, 2011), Dance Music (Origin, 2010), Blessings (Origin, 2009), and Spirit Songs (Sons of Sound, 2006), which have featured Walter Smith III, Philip Dizack, Remy Le Boeuf, Fabian Almazan, Linda May Han Oh, Donald Edwards, Pete McCann, Alison Crockett, Rudy Royston, Ralph Bowen, David Binney, Conrad Herwig, Jim Ridl, Kenny Davis, Renato Thoms, Mark Gross, Tia Fuller, Steve Wilson, Antonio Hart, Clifford Adams, Andy Hunter, Eli Asher, Jonny King, Bryan Carrott, John Benitez, Belden Bullock, Adam Cruz, Ralph Peterson Jr., Wilby Fletcher, Kadri Voorand, and Freddie Bryant.

In 2023, Origin Records will release Branker’s ninth project as a leader titled What Place Can Be For Us? A Suite in Ten-Movements that speaks to the overarching issues of inclusion, belonging, place as an emotional space of being, as well as circumstances of exploitation and zones of refuge experienced by people of color and other global citizens. It will feature tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, trumpeter Philip Dizack, alto & soprano saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf, guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda May Han Oh, drummer Donald Edwards, and vocalist Alison Crockett. Origin Records will also reissue Branker’s Spirit Songs project in the summer of 2023 featuring the late, great drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. along with alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen, pianist Jonny King, bassist John Benitez, and the late trombonist Clifford Adams Jr., who was also a member of the legendary group Kool & the Gang.

Branker has received composition prizes and was a Third Place Winner in the 2021 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) in the jazz category, has received commissions, served as a visiting composer, and has had his music featured in performance in Poland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, France, Estonia, Russia, Australia, China, Germany, Lithuania, and Japan. During his residency at the Estonian Academy of Music & Theatre in Tallinn, Branker composed The Eesti Jazz Suite, a five-movement work inspired by the culture and the spirit of the people of Estonia. The work was premiered in 2006 at the academy of music as part of the concert tour of the Princeton University Jazz Composers Collective, which was sponsored by the Department of State of the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Estonia, and the Estonian Academy of Music. Dr. Branker’s works have also been performed and/or recorded by the New Wind Jazz Orchestra, Sylvan Winds with Max Pollack Dance Ensemble, Composers Concordance Big Band, Princeton University Orchestra, Rutgers University Jazz Ensemble, Rutgers Avant Garde Ensemble, Orrin Evans, Steve Nelson, Stanley Jordan, Talib Kibwe (TK Blue), Curtis Lundy, James Weidman, Calvin Hill, Steve Kroon, Jann Parker, and the Spirit of Life Ensemble, and have featured such guest soloists as Kenny Barron, Eddie Henderson, Winard Harper, John Hicks, Valery Ponomarev, Joe Ford, Cecil Brooks III, Onaje Allen Gumbs, and Alex Blake.

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“Honing a hybrid of freewheeling post-bop and social commentary, abetted by judicious dollops of funk, fusion, spoken word, clave and polyrhythmic percussion…Branker incorporates these elements in broad, bold strokes, like a muralist. He has yet to make a bad record” — JazzTimes

“With a unique combination of depth and accessibility, Branker is able to put forth a jazz perspective steeped in soulful optimism.” —All About Jazz

“Anthony Branker is rising to the top of American jazz composers…a force to be reckoned with in the world of modern post-bop jazz” —Sea of Tranquility

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Primary Instrument

Composer / conductor

Location

Trenton

Willing to teach

Advanced only

Credentials/Background

Dr. Anthony D.J. Branker held an endowed chair in Jazz Studies, was Founding Director of the Program in Jazz Studies, Director of University Jazz Empembles, and served as Associate Director of the Program in Musical Performance at Princeton University, where he taught for 27 years. He directed an extensive list of ensembles and taught courses in jazz theory through improvisation & composition, jazz performance practice in historical and cultural context, jazz composition, the evolution of jazz styles, and the improvising ensemble. He has served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn, Estonia and has also been a member of the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, Hunter College of the City University of New York, Ursinus College, and the New Jersey Summer Arts Institute. Dr. Branker was visiting composer at the Southern Danish Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Odense/Esbjerg, Denmark; Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany; the Estonian Academy of Music & Theatre; and for the Socrates/Erasmus Intensive Programme in cooperation with the European Union, the Association of Baltic Academies of Music, and the Estonian Academy of Music & Theatre.

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Music

Chant for Peace Eternal

From: Spirit Songs
By Anthony Branker

The Door of No Return

From: What Place Can Be for Us? - A...
By Anthony Branker

Unity

From: Together
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Ancestral Tales

From: Dialogic
By Anthony Branker

The House of the Brotherhood of the Black Heads

From: Dance Music
By Anthony Branker

Ascent

From: Blessings
By Anthony Branker