Anteloper [Jaimie Branch and Jason Nazary] – Kudu (2018)

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This electro-acoustic encounter of a trumpeter out of the vibrant Chicago avant jazz scene and a drummer with a solid reputation for exploring the jagged edges of music draws an obvious comparison to the Chicago Underground Duo (Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor) and their provocative debut Kudu lives up to that comparison in the most favorable way. Jaimie Branch of Fly or Die fame and Little Women’s Jason Nazary had worked together since their days at the New England Conservatory of Music in the early aughts but that long running collaboration is now made formal. Calling themselves Anteloper, their Kudu release deftly uses electronics as a cavernous link between Jason Nazary’s multi-faceted drums and the commanding presence of Jaimie Branch’s intense horn.

“I jokingly call it the New York Underground Duo,” offers Branch, not shying away from the similarities evident with the Mazurek/Taylor project (Taylor himself was behind the drums for Fly or Die). But Branch and Nazary bring different personalities to the concept, making the execution come off with imprints of their own in Nazary ever-evolving rhythms and Branch knack for making so much impact without so many notes. And electronics that add so much texture but leave most of the actual music making to the acoustic instruments. The two use technology as no crutch but a talent enhancer. For example, Branch’s echoing trumpet on “Fossil Record” makes a chilling impact and Nazary’s off-kilter beats work with great effect around the synth pulses. “Oryx” is powered by Nazary fractured beats, Sun Ra space sounds and — after an intro where Branch’s horn just soars — a catchy riff emerges on top of which Branch jams amid analog-y synth tones.

“Lethal Curve” and “Ohoneotree Suite” both get started on the strength of Nazary’s bass drum booms making commotions in front of phantasmal synth gurgles and hums, leading into Branch’s trumpet extravaganzas. The former tune gradually loses its tempo, while the latter one picks up steam when Branch’s bellowing trumpet signals the need for more urgency. Later, Nazary locks into a thunderous, slow groove and Branch responds with an advanced class on how to exploit effects for the trumpet.

The ballad of the bunch finally arrives with “Seclusion Self,” soft electro shapes forming an ostinato that provides Branch the perfect opportunity to make doleful expressions with a muted trumpet. Things get a little restless near the end but Nazary keeps the agitation under control.

As a leader, Jamie Branch established herself as a force to be reckoned with from the start. The Anteloper project reveals that she plays well with others, too, and Jason Nazary proves to be the kindred spirit playing on a high, equal plane that their long association would suggest. Far from exhausting an idea originating somewhere else, Kudu suggests that there is so much art waiting to be tapped with only a trumpet, drums and a little bit of circuitry.

Kudu is slated to drop on April 20, 2018 through International Anthem.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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