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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: jaimie branch's alt-jazz legend keeps growing

Under the Stars: jaimie branch’s alt-jazz legend keeps growing

Plus: Tomu DJ rides a 'Crazy Trip,' Dub Brunch brings the kiddos, Kit Sebastian goes big, more music news

Listen up. Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins. Keep in mind quality control remains timeless.

Need proof?

Kate Bush’s single “Running Up That Hill,” released in 1985, around the time Nick Cage was getting fitted for a Superman suit, has just surpassed one billion streams on Spotify.

Yes, there has been a renewed interest in the 1980s hit after Netflix’s “Stanger Things” featured the song, and then it began another life on Tik-Tok as well and zoomed to the top of worldwide charts.

But quality speaks to everyone… forever. OK, Let’s get it!

jaimie branch, FLY OR DIE FLY OR DIE FLY OR DIE ((WORLD WAR)) (INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM)

I miss being surprised by what jaime branch had hidden under her sleeve or beneath that mysterious shall.

As much as her music came to me via the jazz route, it was always the avant-garde stuff—there is no way that shit should work—Anteloper stuff that made me bring the needle back on the record and try to decipher what was the inspiration and why I can’t shake this feeling coming from these speakers.

I look at the new Grammy provisions, especially for Jazz in 2024 (newly added categories are: best pop dance recording, best African music performance, and best alternative jazz album) and nobody can tell me that along with Thundercat, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia, Emma Jean Thackray, Lakecia Benjamin, and Brandee Younger…. jaime branch helped to move those guideposts a bit more left for more young people to get interested in jazz and all the many ways this African-American music can be presented and engaged with.

She died on the night of Monday, August 22, 2022, at her home in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. 

Her death was announced by International Anthem, the Chicago-based label that released her music. The statement, made in consultation with her family, did not provide a cause. She was 39.

Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)) is branch’s third and final album with her Fly or Die quartet and will be released on August 25th, just days after the one-year anniversary of her passing. It was recorded in April 2022 during branch’s artist residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. Backed by her exceedingly sharp and intuitive Fly or Die bandmates—cellist Lester St. Louis, bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Chad Taylor—the album finds branch stretching her creative limits and conquering new sonic terrain.

Her vocals are more present than ever, whether singing harmonies on a duet with Ajemian on “the mountain” (a stunning reimagining of The Meat Puppets’ “Comin’ Down”) or shouting koans with the intensity of a hardcore singer on “take over the world.” Though, as always, the music throughout is undeniably branch’s own.

You can pre-order here.

DUB BRUNCH AT VICTORY HALL, SF,  WITH DJ SEP (DUB MISSION) ON SUN/9

On most days, I’m hungry, but on Sundays, my appetite has a different hankering.

It’s a special science that good music and good vibes go together like Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, Curry and Draymond. Additionally, since it’s your Sunday, don’t serve up just anything.

DJ Sep is a long-time San Francisco Bay Area DJ, producer, and the founder of Dub Mission, one of the longest-running reggae clubs in the world, has started this Sunday event at what used to be the legendary 330 Ritch Nightclub. Nestled in the fabled Ritch Street alley, Victory Hall is a craft cocktail bar and event venue in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. It’s a place for gatherings and a cornerstone of this vibrant community.

“The Dub Brunch is an opportunity for me to dive deeper into the dub side of my selections and present these songs in a non-club environment” stated the Bay-Area icon. “I’m really attracted to the idea of exposing this music to a wider range of people. Since the event is all ages, and family style, there are fewer barriers. It gives me the opportunity to expose young kids to it, and it provides people with a chance to bring their whole family to experience the music.

“The last one was really fun. Because it’s a brunch and not a club event, people will be interacting as a family or a community of friends while they listen, so the music becomes part of the vibe, not the whole vibe, like a backyard BBQ. Also, the food by Little Skillet is so good, and on this Sunday, guest chef Jay Foster will be there, so it’s going to be even more special.”

She hopes the Dub Brunch catches on so there will be more opportunities. Find out more here.

BLAKTRONICA FESTIVAL HOSTED BY KING BRITT ON SUNDAY JULY 30 AT PUBLIC RECORDS IN BROOKLYN NY

King Britt shared his early 1990s experience with Digable Planets with us in an interview back in February. As an assistant professor of teaching in the UC San Diego music department, Britt currently instructs the undergraduate course “Blacktronika: Afrofuturism In Electronic Music” and maintains an archive of interviews with seminal people in the development of Black electronic music. He has stated to the media that the academic community has largely overlooked the history of people of color who were pioneers in electronic music. 

“I’m like, ‘Wait, there’s no voice in academia’: house, drum and bass, Detroit techno, the LA beat scene, all of it is extremely important to the advancement of where electronic music is now,” King Britt told The Wire in 2021.

Right now, that voice is speaking.

Next month, the first-ever Blacktronika festival will be held in New York under the direction of King Britt, a producer, educator, and DJ royalty. The event is scheduled for Sunday, July 30 at Brooklyn’s Public Records, according to Resident Advisor.

A combination of DJ sets, live performances, and panel discussions will be included in the festival’s inaugural event. Maria Chavez, Charlie Dark of Attica Blues, one of our favorites Orion Sun, and King Britt himself will all be performing.

Purchase tickets here.

TOMU DJ, CRAZY TRIP (NO BIAS)

Last year, we told you about Tomu DJ, a West Coast producer with a talent for weaving meloncholy dance floor spells.

The Bay Area producer kept acquiring these complex harmonies that resemble hymns from the future for Half Moon Bay, her second full-length album. 

To emphasize some type of intimate feeling that can be shared with the dancefloor but still save personal moments for the headphones, Tomu waits for half of her current single “Bedroom DJ” (featuring Petty Getty) before releasing the kick-drum. It’s more of a meditation with the color keys than an aggressive pressing action to ride the wave throughout simply.

She’s about to release Crazy Trip under the independent Oakland label and nightlife series NO BIAS.

“This record was mostly produced around the same time as my first two albums” Tomu DJ states on her Bandcamp page. “The way each project came together was a selection process of tracks that fit a certain message, with one or two newer tracks to tie the record together. For Half Moon Bay that was ‘Half Moon,’ and on this new record it’s ‘Crazy Trip.’

“The name isn’t about drugs or anything, more so just a reflection on the craziness of life even in its more serene moments. I wanted to share my favourite tracks from the vault as I work on bettering myself and my sound. The artwork by RIP depicts my creative process, giving listeners context to both what they are hearing and whatever comes next.”

Crazy Trip is set to be released in August, you can pre-order the digital version here.

KAIDI TATHAM, THE ONLY WAY (FIRST WORD RECORDS)

Looking forward to the arrival of another Kaidi Tatham long-player is one of the best ways to pinch yourself and confirm that it is indeed summer. Tatham has created a multiverse where various strains of rhythms borne from the African diaspora do in fact exist, thrive, and keep time with the accelerated meter of life. The Only Way, which was announced on Juneteenth, maybe a sly allusion to The Mandalorian series (I wouldn’t be mad at it).

He is a legendary, one-of-a-kind multi-instrumentalist who was born in the Midlands and now calls Belfast home. He is a keyboard virtuoso and a pioneer in bringing a particular sound to the forefront. Recognized as one of the original creators of the Broken Beat sound.

You can hear some Mr. Tatham in the breakbeat goodness of Dâm-Funk, Afrikan Sciences, Dego, Francious K, and Kamaal Williams. The Only Way is the most recent installment of Kaidi’s totally original sound explorations, claims the press release, eleven songs with elements of bruk, funk, jazz, mid-tempo hip hop, and hyper-energetic Brazilian flavors are combined in a difficult-to-define melting pot, but they all share Kaidi’s distinctive sonic style.

Enjoy the summer and place your order here.

KIT SEBASTIAN, “L’ADDIO” (MR BONGO)

The Dali Lama is reputed to be a heavy hitter. I’d bet that this grand gesture of the night set’s final song hits a little harder. When you do research on tracks, you check to see who is feeling what and why.

The London-based duo Kit Sebastian, which consists of Kit Martin and Merve Erdem, has the goods, all the pieces that, on paper, don’t really seem like they’re going to work, but when you put the needle on the record, boom. “L’addio” debuts with a breakbeat-driven, sultry ballad that has a presentation from the late 1980s.

It’s an Italian synthesized sound with double bass, horns, and strings that will rouse all breakbeat enthusiasts.

If you take the production game seriously, “L’addio” will find its way into your record bag. It’s the kind of ballad that the psyche-funk band Khruangbin wished they had written.

Go big, my friend, and pick it up right here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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