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 Princeton University and now teaches at Rutgers, has personally known what it means to be an immigrant of color. What concerns inclusion and belonging are central starting points for the music he has written and arranged here, and the civil war in Syria has been among Branker's "sources of inspiration".
Branker is originally a trumpet player, but here - and perhaps elsewhere too - he has put the horn away and concentrated on his writing job. He does this in an outstanding and exciting way where he tells us that he has full control over the entire modern jazz tradition and knows how to put his own stamp on the music as well.
On two of the tracks poems are recited, including Langston Hughes' "I, Too" from 1926, but otherwise it is an excellent septet, Imagine, who interpret and elevate this great material which does not need so many words to tell us something important and strong.
The pianist Fabian Almazan, the drummer Donald Edwards, the trumpeter Philip Dizack, the bassist Linda May Han Oh, the alto and soprano saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf, the guitarist Pete McCann and the tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III - a brilliant collective of distinguished soloists ensure that Branker's ideas are put into life and well then. Branker is overwhelmed with excitement about what Imagine has done with his music and it's easy to see.
This suite is a great and large piece of music with a strong message. It is also a great gateway to Branker's universe - a universe where there are a number of recordings with different bands.
Translated from Norwegian