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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Imagine: Beauty Within

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The two aneurysms that forced composer and musical director Anthony Branker to give up the trumpet in 1999 have done nothing to stem the tide of thoughtful and progressive music that he consistently delivers. Downsizing from his “Word Play" ensemble, Branker guides a quintet of new and long-time colleagues on Beauty Within. A regular Branker collaborator, saxophonist Ralph Bowen joins a consummate session man in guitarist Pete McCann who has worked with Maria Schneider, Lindsey Horner and many ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Imagine: Beauty Within

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The “Rising Star" status isn't confined to fresh music school graduates. Dr. Anthony Branker, Educator--who, for twenty-seven years, was engaged in a big way with Princeton University's jazz program--has achieved a recent “rising star" tag as a composer. This after releasing seven top notch CDs for Origin Records, including the masterful Uppity (2013). “Composer/Musical Director" is Branker's title on his recordings. He doesn't play, but rather molds the sounds of several different small group jazz collectives. On Beauty ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Word Play: Uppity

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On Uppity, Dr. Anthony Branker, Director of Jazz Studies at Princeton University, has created a life-affirming, sometimes funky, and straight-through beautiful set of sounds--an ode to the resiliency and basic goodness of the human spirit.Branker began his jazz journey as a trumpeter, but complications from a brain aneurysm in 1999 brought his trumpet playing days to an end. He is now the composer and musical director of his Ascent and Word Play modern jazz ensembles.Uppity opens ...

INTERVIEW

Anthony Branker: Jazz Dialogics

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Anthony Branker is a musician for all seasons. He began his career as a trumpeter, including a stint with the Spirit of Life Ensemble, which honored its African-American and Afro-Caribbean roots during a multi-year tenure as the Monday night band at the legendary Sweet Basil club in New York City. Over time, Branker developed an increasing interest in jazz education, which led him to teaching positions at Hunter College and Princeton University, where he organized and conducted memorable ensembles. Around ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Anthony Branker & Word Play: Princeton, NJ, April 3, 2011

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Anthony Branker & Word PlayPaul Robeson Center for the ArtsSolley AuditoriumPrinceton, NJApril 3, 2011 Trumpeter Anthony Branker's Princeton, New Jersey concert--sponsored by The Princeton Council for the Arts, funded by Wachovia-Wells Fargo Bank, Bloomberg and other sources--was a musical gem set on the laconic, early spring day of Sunday afternoon, April 3. The Solley Auditorium of the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts on Witherspoon Street, is an intimate but fully equipped ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Dance Music

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Anthony Branker continues to experiment with the standards of large group musical tradition on Dance Music. Leading a revised version of his Ascent ensemble, the composer/musical director takes a different approach than the Latin influences on Blessings (Origin Records, 2009). Only on the last of ten tracks, “Depende," is there a composition in that vein, but that's all for the good, as Branker keeps searching for new ways to articulate a distinctive personal sound. Dance Music opens with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Dance Music

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Dr. Anthony Branker holds an endowed jazz chair, and is currently director of the Program in Jazz Studies at Princeton University. A composer and musical director, Branker established the jazz collective, Anthony Branker & Ascent in 2004, featuring an A-list of players--among them, saxophonists Tia Fuller and Ralph Bowen fronting a light ensemble, with vocalist Kadri Voorand. Dance Music is the group's third album of all-original music, inspired by Branker's desire to infuse his compositions with an element of dance. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Blessings

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Composer/arranger Anthony Branker and his ensemble Ascent follow up on the critically acclaimed release Spirit Songs (Sons of Sound, 2006) with Blessings, a spirited collection of progressive jazz. The music was composed during a residency Branker participated in at the Estonian Academy of Music where he represented the United States as a Fulbright Scholar. The recording features a first-rate cast of east coast heavy-hitters.

The disc's themes are strong, matter-of-fact musical statements. The lyrical simplicity of tunes such as “Ascent," ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Spirit Songs

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Primarily working outside of the major league jazz spotlight, but not far from it by any means, Anthony Branker is crafting some of today's finest compositions--and has assembled the sextet Ascent to bring them to musical life. Spirit Songs consists of tunes Branker has written since 1997, performed by a rather formidable unit: saxophonists Antonio Hart and Ralph Bowen, trombonist Clifford Adams, pianist Jonny King, bassist John Benitez and drummer Ralph Peterson. Branker heads the Jazz Studies ...


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