jaimie department, lauded trumpeter and composer, dies at 39 : NPR

jaimie department, lauded trumpeter and composer, dies at 39 : NPR

jaimie department, who died on Monday, August 22 at 39, performs along with her group FLY or DIE in New York in 2020.

Jonathan Chimene


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Jonathan Chimene


jaimie department, who died on Monday, August 22 at 39, performs along with her group FLY or DIE in New York in 2020.

Jonathan Chimene

jaimie department, a trumpeter who mixed punk ferocity with superior method in her model of improvised music, incomes acclaim inside and effectively outdoors of jazz circles, died on Monday evening at her dwelling within the Purple Hook part of Brooklyn, N.Y. Her demise was announced by Worldwide Anthem, the Chicago-based label that launched her music. (The assertion, made in session along with her household, didn’t present a trigger.) She was 39.

department might conjure a world of private expression along with her trumpet, sounding brash and conflagratory one second, bleary and contemplative the subsequent. What she at all times conveyed along with her horn, in any setting, was an absolute whole-body conviction. One motive she turned a beloved linchpin of the artistic music neighborhood over the past decade was this spirit of gutsy depth. Her demeanor, by comparability, was typically hilariously profane and ultracasual — qualities she hinted at with a most popular moniker, jaimie breezy department (no caps).

She was a rising star who’d amassed a worldwide following and no scarcity of important acclaim over the past 5 years, particularly for her work with a chamberlike but attractively rough-hewn band, FLY or DIE. Together with department on trumpet and vocals, it featured Jason Ajemian on bass, Chad Taylor on drums, and both Tomeka Reid or Lester St. Louis on cello. NPR Music acknowledged FLY or DIE’s self-titled debut as one of many Prime 50 Albums of 2017. (The group additionally made my private listing of Prime 10 jazz performances that 12 months). A sequel, FLY or DIE II: Fowl Canines of Paradise, landed in the Prime 10 within the 2019 NPR Music Jazz Critics Ballot.

The trumpet wasn’t the one instrument in department’s artistic arsenal: She was a talented producer and digital artist, and these days ventured headlong into vocals, spoken and sung. As WBEZ’s Nereida Moreno reported in 2019, department took centered purpose on the resurgence of nativist and racist ideologies with “prayer for amerikkka,” a chunk from FLY or DIE II so titled as a result of, as she instructed Moreno on the time, “this nation was actually based on genocide and slavery, so let’s simply be actual about that.”

Earlier than she was extensively identified for any political stance, department was hailed in new-music circles for the dynamic vary and grounded energy of her trumpet enjoying. She was a welcome presence on the Competition of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) in New York, which introduced her as early as 2007, and on a number of events since.

“She introduced us so many insights into how the trumpet might have interaction within the music otherwise,” trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas, the founding father of FONT Music, tells NPR. “She had a imaginative and prescient for synthesizing the voices of her inspirations and taking them to new ranges nobody had thought doable. It is a tragic loss for our neighborhood.”

These inspirations coated a spectrum, from the murmuring heat of Chet Baker to the mischievous blare of Lester Bowie. Like Bowie and Miles Davis, one other key affect, department knew tips on how to place her sound throughout the tumult of an assertive band, generally chopping by means of and generally burrowing in. A model of “Theme 002” recorded in Switzerland early in 2020, and later included on FLY or DIE LIVE, finds her bobbing and weaving towards a springy variation on dub rhythm earlier than the beat dissolves into freeform static. It is a neat distillation of department’s fashion as an improviser, although it is also only one discrete piece.

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Born on June 17, 1983 in Huntington, N.Y., department grew up in a musically conducive setting, partly impressed by the instance of her half-brother, a decade her senior. She began on piano at age 3, and by 9 she had taken up trumpet. Inside just a few years, she later remembered, it was clear that this might be her calling.

The Department household moved from Lengthy Island to the northern suburbs of Chicago — Wilmette, In poor health. — when jaimie was 14. On the New England Conservatory in Boston, she studied with Charles Schlueter, then the principal trumpeter within the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in addition to seasoned improvisers like guitarist Joe Morris and trumpeter John McNeil. As a scholar at NEC, she additionally found the experimental sound palette of German trumpeter Axel Dörner, promptly falling down a rabbit gap of prolonged method: round respiration, multiphonics, spectral resonance, areas of pure sound.

This burgeoning space of experience served department effectively when she returned to Chicago, dwelling to among the most free-thinking composer-improvisers on the planet. Amongst her early champions there was cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, with whom she fashioned a trio. Earlier than lengthy she had additionally met Ajemian, Reid and Taylor, in addition to Chicago mainstays like multi-reedist Ken Vandermark, drummer Frank Rosaly and flutist Nicole Mitchell.

One other transfer in 2012, to review in a graduate program at Towson College, exacerbated some private struggles: “Baltimore is a tough city to reside in if you wish to stop doing heroin,” department instructed Peter Margasak in a 2017 article for the Chicago Reader. She dropped out of Towson after two years, enrolled in a remedy program on Lengthy Island, and located her strategy to Brooklyn.

She fell in with a brand new crop of collaborators in New York, together with tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, drummer Mike Pleasure and guitarist Ava Mendoza. On the similar time, she preserved a knockabout Chicago vitality in her music — most just lately in an ambient-improv duo known as Anteloper, that includes department on trumpet, electronics, percussion and vocals, with Jason Nazary on synthesizers and drums.

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This spring, as pandemic restrictions loosened sufficient for touring to renew, department took FLY or DIE again out on the street. Amongst these dates was one on the Ruba Membership in Philadelphia, introduced by the nonprofit Ars Nova Workshop. “Jaimie used her music as an unimaginable instrument to attach the artistic and the important,” Mark Christman, ANW’s Govt and Creative Director, tells NPR. “And she or he used that artistic, improvised, DIY instrument to do what each nice jazz artist makes use of it for: imagining various futures, addressing trauma, sustaining resilience.”

department is survived by her mom, Sally Department; a sister, Kate Department; two brothers, Russell and Clark Department; and nieces and nephews. “Of all of the individuals jaimie touched, I am luckiest of all, as a result of I’ve solely ever identified life with jaimie and her music,” writes Kate Department, whose loft in Purple Hook served because the unlikely recording studio for FLY or DIE. “She was my older sister, my first trainer, my first good friend, my first combat, my final combat. She was my every little thing. She was the bravest particular person I knew, on and off the stage. And life simply appears too quiet now.”

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