Honing a hybrid of freewheeling postbop 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.
The music of composer Anthony Branker stands firmly on jazz traditions while simultaneously pushing the boundaries in bold and beautiful new directions. For his seventh release for Origin Records, Branker features brilliant new works as performed by longtime collaborator-saxophonist Ralph Bowen, guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda Oh, and drummer Rudy Royston. Branker's new ensemble, Imagine, takes his expansive compositional vision and infuses it with passionate performances drenched with lyrical flow and dexterous rhythmic interplay. Truly a fascinating and exceptional recording from an imaginative composer.
1 JOY 8:32
2 BEAUTY WITHIN 7:26
3 LOVING DAY (JUNE 12) 9:15
4 PRELUDE TO WISDOM (FABIAN'S IMPROVISATION) 1:22
5 (WE ARE) WHAT WE ARE NOT YET 6:34
6 MANY ROADS BENEATH THE SKY 8:29
7 GRACE 3:36
8 PEOPLE EVERYWHERE 5:50
9 (GOD'S) WISDOM 6:12
RALPH BOWEN - tenor & soprano saxophones
PETE McCANN - guitar
FABIAN ALMAZAN - piano
LINDA OH - double bass
RUDY ROYSTON - drums
ANTHONY BRANKER - composer & musical director
All compositions and arrangements by Anthony Branker, published by J Prof Music (BMI)
Produced by Anthony Branker
Recorded, mixed & mastered by Mike Marciano at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Recorded on April 29, 2016
Mixing assistance: Anthony Branker
Photos by VTT Studios, Wang Song
Cover design & layout John Bishop
All About Jazz (Dan McClenaghan)
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 Up ...
All About Jazz (KARL ACKERMANN )
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 ...
Step Tempest (Richard B. Kamins)
I have been wanting to talk to composer and educator Anthony Branker since 2013 and the release of "Uppity", an album that addressed racism, religion, and hope. Credited to "Word Play" and released on the Origin label, the music included "Ballad for Trayvon Martin", "Dance Like No One is Watching", "Across the Divide", "Let's Conversat ...
AXS (Carol Banks Weber)
These are the musicians you want on any heart-stopping new jazz recording: guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Fabian Almazan, double-bassist Linda Oh, tenor/soprano saxophonist Ralph Bowen, and drummer Rudy Royston. They're in-demand jazz side men and session players who do a number on nine compositions by bandleader and composer Anthony Branker for hi ...
JazzDaGama (Raul da Gama)
As a listener, Anthony Branker is no stranger to sound of the heart. As a composer his trained inner ear is always tuned into the rhythms of the heart. It is not that intellect and logic do not play a part in what he writes; it's just that his guiding light from which all music flows is the Almighty and God speaks to all men in the energy of the he ...
Drumhead Magazine (Editor)
The music of composer Anthony Branker stands firmly on jazz traditions while simultaneously pushing the boundaries in bold and beautiful new directions. For his seventh release for Origin Records, Branker features brilliant new works as performed by longtime collaborator-saxophonist Ralph Bowen, guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassis ...
Jazz Scene (Tree Palmedo)
It is increasingly rare for a jazz composer to not perform his or her own work. Exceptions are often made for large ensemble conductors, like Maria Schneider, but on a quintet date, the only question is usually which band member wrote which tune. This new release by Anthony Branker, however, is a rare occasion in which a composer employs a separate ...
Sea of Tranquility (Jon Neudorf)
Anthony Branker is rising to the top of American jazz composers and it is easy to hear why on his seventh album for Origin Records titled Beauty Within. He is a leader of three ensembles, Word Play, Ascent and on this record teaming with Imagine. Beauty Within is a stunning post-bop jazz album that showcases the exceptional talent of his band. T ...
Jazz Weekly (George W. Harris)
Anthony Branker doesn't even play an instrument here; he's the composer and director of these nine pieces performed by Ralph Bowen/ts-ss, Pete McCann/g, Fabian Almazan/p, Linda Oh/b and Rudy Royston/dr. The liberating part of this concept is that no musician is beholden to being the major voice; they serve the music completely. The pieces themse ...
JazzTimes (Philip Booth)
Composer-arranger Anthony Branker, former longtime jazz studies guru at Princeton, turns to his new Imagine quintet for his latest set of forward-looking acoustic-electric pieces. From the titles to the haunting, sometimes meditative textures, a spiritual core seems to inform these imaginative compositions, brought to life via a band featuring saxo ...
JAZZIZ (Asher Wolf)
Anthony Branker must know how to craft a catchy tune - an idea that is concise, simple and lyrical - because the compositions on Beauty Within realize the polar opposite of that formula. Each piece challenges the listener with an aural jigsaw of stubborn intensity, an entropic whirlwind sensitively parsed by his star-studded ensemble. Composing ...
Albany Jazz (Albert Brooks)
TOP 5 for 2016 Beauty Within, itself a strong contender for my choice of ‘album of the year', is another marvelous offering from Dr. Anthony Branker, the most eloquent, socially conscious, interesting and challenging composer/arranger on the scene today, in my humble estimation. This album aptly named for what it is is a work of beauty. In Imagi ...
Nippertown (Albany, NY) (Jay Hunter)