It is rare for me to be impressed by an album to this extent...Anthony Branker's compositions are luxuriously packaged in both classical and jazz forms, blending and intermingling to the point of no longer knowing what planet we are on, except for that of an exceptional composer, in front of whom one can feel small, due to the grandeur of his work. Musical beauty in the service of thought...
Composer Dr. Anthony Branker presents this captivating ten-movement suite that speaks to notions of "Place" and the overarching issues of inclusion and belonging, as well as circumstances of exploitation and zones of refuge experienced by people of color and other global citizens. It is brilliantly performed by the latest edition of his group Imagine, featuring tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, trumpeter Philip Dizack, alto saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf, guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda May Han Oh, drummer Donald Edwards, and vocalist/spoken-word artist Alison Crockett. Branker's ensemble takes his expansive compositional vision and infuses it with passionate performances drenched with lyrical flow and ingenious rhythmic interplay.
"(Branker) illuminates the pungent individuality of each musician without compromising the prominence of his own voice..."
What Place Can Be for Us?
A Suite in Ten Movements
1. The Door of No Return 8:53
2. Sundown Town 7:21
3. I, Too, Sing America 4:04
4. Indivisible 6:04
5. We Went Where the Wind Took Us 4:47
6. What Place Can Be for Us? 8:30
7. Sunken Place 4:43
8. The Trail of Tears to Standing Rock 6:03
9. Sanctuary City 5:42
10. Placeless 5:45
Composed & arranged by Anthony Branker (J Prof Music, BMI)
Walter Smith III - tenor saxophone
Philip Dizack - trumpet
Remy Le Boeuf - alto & soprano saxophones
Pete McCann - guitar
Fabian Almazan - piano
Linda May Han Oh - double & electric bass
Donald Edwards - drums
Alison Crockett - vocals & spoken word
Anthony Branker - composer & musical director
Walter Smith III appears courtesy of the Capitol Music Group (CMG) and Blue Note Records
Produced by Anthony Branker
Recorded 8/5/22 by Mike Marciano of Systems Two, NY
at Samurai Hotel Recording Studios, Astoria, NY
Vocals Recorded 10/21/22 by Brian Sullivan
at Brian Sullivan Music Studio, Upper Marlboro, MD
Mixed by Mike Marciano & Anthony Branker
at Systems Two, NY
Mastered by Mike Marciano, New York
Front cover photo by Deneka Peniston
Liner notes by Michael Ambrosino
Cover design & layout by John Bishop
Paris Move (Thierry Docmac)
Anthony Branker is an American composer and conductor who is releasing his eighth album on the Origin Records label. He is certainly one of the most important current American composers, and this work makes us question the fundamental issues of inclusion and belonging, as well as the circumstances of exploitation and the zones of refuge experienced ...
All About Jazz (Michael Ambrosino)
Ma Rainey channeled music as her ritual of "singing to understand life." Congressman John Lewis leveraged music towards the "good trouble" he created fighting for civil rights in an uncivil land. Anthony Branker understands music as the calculus of his life's work—the art of weaving words and sound into transcendent tapestries that explore the ri ...
Nettavisen (Norway) (Thor Hammerø)
Anthony Branker? No reason to despair if you don't know the name before. That said, "What Place Can Be For Us?" an excellent place to get to know the American composer and arranger. Anthony Branker (64) is a second-generation immigrant to the United States. His parents came from Trinidad in the 50s and Branker, who has been a professor at Prince ...
Chicago Jazz Magazine (Jeff Cebulski)
Black History Month gives us the opportunity to revisit and reconsider the disconcerting events that unfortunately occupy our socio-historical legacy. From Billie Holiday to Max Roach to Charles Mingus and beyond, Jazz artists have played a huge role in increasing our awareness of the nation's inequalities. Thanks to Origin Records, I discovered an ...
DownBeat Magazine (Josef Woodard)
WHILE THE TRAJECTORY OF A JAZZ MUSICIAN'S career often follows a somewhat logical arc, others take more complex and evolving paths. The latter has been the fate — mostly self-designed — of Dr. Anthony Branker, whose latest album is one of his most ambitious projects. What Place Can Be For Us? A Suite In Ten Movements is a sweeping opus with soc ...
His Voice (Czech Republic) (Jan Hocek)
In February, composer and conductor Anthony Branker released his eighth title on the renowned label Origin Records. The content of the new album is the ten-movement suite What Place Can Be For Us? about "seeking and finding a place that can be a refuge, a place of inclusion and belonging for people of color and people persecuted by oppression, war ...
Jazzlands (Philip Booth)
Anthony Branker's 10-movement suite, initially written in response to the forced migration of Syrians during their country's civil war, also points to the open racism, bigotry and cultural erasure on the rise in America, circa 2023. The ambitious, sprawling song cycle opens with the fusion-edged "The Door of No Return," its title a reference to the ...
Textura (Ron Schepper)
As the composer, arranger, and musical director for the ten-movement suite What Place Can Be for Us?, Anthony Branker is the visionary force behind the project and, as importantly, the one responsible with recruiting the top-tier musicians that perform it. The latest edition of his group Imagine draws on the considerable talents of tenor saxophonis ...
Step Tempest (Richard Kamins)
Dr. Anthony Branker is quite an accomplished person with a list of achievements that would fill this page. I spoke to him in 2017 at the time Origin Records released "Beauty Within", his seventh album of original compositions (and six issued by the Seattle, WA-based label). At that time, he had recently stepped down as the head (and founder) of the ...
All Music Guide (Matt Collar)
Although he doesn't play any of the instruments on 2023's What Place Can Be for Us?, Anthony Branker's vibrant jazz sensibilities and identity as a first-generation Black American of Caribbean descent are at the core of the album's pulsing character. A longtime professor at Princeton and Rutgers, Branker started out playing trumpet, but health issu ...
Take Effect (Tom Haugen)
The esteemed composer Anthony Branker returns with his 8th release on the Origin label, where 10 pieces surround the idea of ‘place' and how it pertains to inclusion and belonging, and he's got a large cast of players for the passionate, rhythmic affair. "The Door Of No Return" starts the listen with Alison Crockett's expressive spoken word a ...
All About Jazz (Italy) (Angelo Leonardi)
4 1/2 STARS The adventurous post-bop of the composer Anthony Branker, well expressed by the album Beauty Within by the Imagine quintet, finds new and more complex developments in this What Place Can Be for Us?. The group confirms the guitarist Pete McCann and the couple Fabian Almazan and Linda May Han Oh, expanding to a medium size band with som ...