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Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (International Anthem)

A review of the trumpeter/composer's second album

Jaimie Branch, Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise
The cover of Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise by Jaimie Branch

Trumpeter and composer Jaimie Branch pulls no punches. A raw, in-your-face sensibility runs through Fly or Die, her stunning 2017 debut, as well as the 2018 disc Kudu by her side project Anteloper (which, in a nod to her time in the Windy City and the influence of Rob Mazurek, she nicknames the New York Underground Duo). Her proper second album, Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise, is even more vivid. It’s a superb recording that seethes in its quiet moments and often reaches a bracing, full-throated roar. 

A terse 45 minutes, Fly or Die II mixes intense longer pieces like “Prayer for Amerikkka pt. 1 & 2” with pieces like “Lesterlude,” a 40-second showcase for cellist Lester St. Louis, who replaces Tomeka Reid in Branch’s quartet, and “Whales,” mostly a solo for bassist Jason Ajemian. Drummer Chad Taylor rounds out the ensemble with an array of lithe and virtuosic rhythms. Branch’s compositions make splendid use of the instrumentation; the music sounds both familiar and unique thanks to the mix of strings, electronics, and percussion.  

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