Review

jaimie branch

Fly Or Die Fly Or Die Fly Or Die (World War)

International Anthem • 2023

n the summer of 2022, jaimie branch’s Insta stories were a daily testament to anger, dismay and protest. One US state after another was in the process of passing anti-abortion laws. Shortly before that, »Pink Dolphins«, the third album by her band Anteloper with drummer Jason Nazary, was released on International Anthem, as was her guest appearance with the »Medicine Singers« on their self-titled debut. The third »Fly or Die album« was already in the pipeline, and only the final mix was missing. And then, suddenly, a portrait of jaimie branch appeared on all the music channels. The extraordinary jazz trumpeter with a DIY punk attitude died in her Brooklyn apartment at the age of 39. 

The album she left us is probably the best remedy for the doldrums. With a chaotic excitement, branch’s band plays in a way that let’s you dance, whirl and mosh to every number. As »Fly Or Die Fly Or Die ((World War))« kicks off the synth overture »Aurora Rising«, the peacock on the cover fans out its feathers as branch’s bandmates bring together South African, Afro-Cuban and Latin American influences. Branch’s trumpet draws its hypnotic lines over the myriad mambo and clave variations, congas, mbira and jingling toys. Branch’s voice comes through like on no other »Fly or Die« record. With its unbelievable joy of playing, this album gives the middle finger to the whole situation.