Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))
This is the album that trumpeter and Fly or Die bandleader jaimie “breezy” branch did not live to release. One of the most beloved improvisers of her generation, she died in August 2022 at 39. Her bandmates resolved “to do what she would have done”—to see the project through in a way that not only honored her memory, but kept her spirit close, still in the creative process. The result is what cellist Lester St. Louis, bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Chad Taylor call “a love letter sent from the beyond by a beloved artist and friend.” branch’s trumpet is a beacon, whether open or muted, and like everyone in the group, she doubles, playing keyboards, percussion, and voice, commanding attention like a punk rocker on “Take Over the World” and “Burning Grey.” Nick Broste’s trombone and Rob Frye’s flute and bass clarinet give “Baba Louie” a larger band sound, while “The Mountain” does the opposite: It’s Ajemian and branch harmonizing on a great Meat Puppets song, “Comin’ Down,” with just bass and the two voices, intimate as a country ballad and full of fun. The closing “World War” is also sparse, but heavier, with bowed strings and clarion trumpet shifting to haunting organ and chimes as branch sings about “what the world could be, if only you could see.” It’s hard not to hear it as a farewell.