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Jaimie Branch, jazz composer and trumpeter, dies aged 39 | Jazz

Jaimie Branch, the jazz composer and trumpeter, has died aged 39. International Anthem, the progressive Chicago label that released her music, confirmed that she died on 22 August at her home in Brooklyn, New York. No cause of death was shared.

“Jaimie was a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend and teacher,” the label said in a statement. “She touched countless numbers of people with her music and spirit, both of which are fearless, truthful and beautiful, and will live on in hearts and ears for ever. Jaimie’s family asks not just for your thoughts and prayers but also for your action. Show your love and support for your family and friends and anyone who may be in need – just like Jaimie did for all of us.”

Branch was known for her fierce solo albums: she released Fly Or Die in 2017, described by the Chicago Reader as a “stunning quartet recording that knits together several threads in Branch’s music – laser-sharp improvisatory exploration, ebullient melodies and a deep feeling for groove”.

It was followed in 2019 by Fly Or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise, recorded live at the London venues Total Refreshment Centre and Cafe Oto. It featured her vocals for the first time as she excoriated racism and border control and defended life’s misfits. “At its peak, Jaimie Branch’s trumpet playing has the feeling of a prelingual shriek, a cry out into the distance that intuits no response,” Guardian critic Ammar Kalia wrote of the album.

Jaimie Branch: Fly Or Die – video

Branch was also a beloved and voracious collaborator, working with untold artists – among them the US bands TV on the Radio, Yo La Tengo and Spoon, Texas guitarist Eli Winter, International Anthem peers such as Ben LaMar Gay, Angel Bat Dawid and Tortoise’s Jeff Parker and British jazz musician Alabaster dePlume, who paid tribute to Branch on Instagram.

“Things were always more exciting when Jaimie was around, but also somehow tender – more real and down to earth, but also more grand and epic and noble,” wrote DePlume (AKA Gus Fairbairn). “My best times with her were in the future, I was looking forward to a life of knowing her more, and responding to her, and finding out who I can be in answer to the way she was.”

UK jazz outfit the Comet Is Coming, Philadelphia guitarist Chris Forsyth, DJ Gilles Peterson and Illinois guitarist Ryley Walker were also among the figures celebrating Branch’s life. “Jaimie Branch was insanely funny,” wrote Walker. “Like my brain is pink slime choking on air dying of laughter funny. Great memories. Jaimie ruled so fucking hard. Insane confidence on stage and delivered on it. Legend. Hurts a lot.”

Jaimie Branch
Jaimie Branch. Photograph: Hailey Thelen

Branch was born in New York on 17 June 1983 and started playing the trumpet aged nine. She moved to Chicago in her teens and began to explore the history of jazz, turned on by Miles Davis’s ’58 Sessions Featuring Stella by Starlight and later Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jaimie Branch, jazz composer and trumpeter, dies aged 39 | Jazz

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