Anthony Branker & Word Play: Uppity

Composer & arranger Anthony Branker has put together an intriguing six piece suite with a sextet and vocalist that can be approached both musically and socially. Of the latter, the theme of the piece is concerning latent and overt racism in America a la the Trayvon Martin case and the latest presidential election campaign. Musically, it’s hard to beat Ralph Bowen’s tenor sax gliding over the rhythm section of Jim Ridl/key, Kenny Davis/b and Donald Edwards on the empassioned “Ballad for Trayvon Martin,” and the agonizingly dramatic buildup with Charmaine Lee as she coalesces her voice with Andy Hunter/tb, Eli Asher/tp and Bowen on “Three Gifts”. Some catchy funky themes keep the moods varied and uptempo on “Let’s Convesate!” and “Dance Like No One Is Watching,” making Branker a guy you want to keep an ear out for. Thematically, American racism is a touchy topic, and having personally lived as a minority member in various 2nd and 3rd World countries, I can not only attest that America is actually one of the LEAST racist countries in the world, but the problem is more a problem of sin than skin. Having said that, it’s impressive to have a composer put his heart on his sleeve and desire to start a hopefully truthful and honest dialogue through music and word.

Origin Records

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