August

Dear Comrade, 

It’s been a minute. I am slowly recalibrating this past phase, gearing up for a fall period of action, ambition, movement, and more multi arts dream building. 

Tonight I am a little pissed at the Universe. Just straight up snatching things we need, with no warning…I understand there is a method and reasoning to the function of grief, for those of us left behind, but I still don’t like it…

Some weeks ago I was alerted to the passing of visionary saxophonist and composer Ryan Muncy. Ryan was a dear friend and supporter of my work, and a hard working sonic explorer. I never understood how he got things done, but he did, and he had a lot of fun while doing it. In his presence I made a note to self that I needed a little more fun in this next stage. He was incredibly gifted, super humble and just an overall good person.  He had just sent me a beautiful message about all the future work we’d be digging into together,  when I got word of his passing. I didn’t return it right away because I thought I would be seeing him soon. Man, how I regret not returning that message right away. He had recently played on a live performance of one of my large scale mixed media ensemble pieces. It was the 1st time I had performed any of my larger pieces since the shut downs. It was a phenomenal and sublime experience.

And I just got news tonight about the passing of another musician who previously joined me and Ryan at the premiere concert of the same work. Another sound visionary… The all around good vibes, good times, epic sound adventurer jaimie branch. 

I have known jaimie for over 20 years. We 1st met in Chicago at the Velvet Lounge Sunday night jam, then we met again in Boston as students at the New England Conservatory, midwestern sonic fugitives, given a lot of shit back home about leaving for Boston for “school” ( IYKYK:)). And so we bonded hard over Chicago hometown love immediately. To say she was one of my favorite people is a huge understatement. jaimie was just a marvel of pure love. She had some hard struggles, and scars like you and me, but she also had that fire, and you could hear that fire in her music. You could feel it in the way she kept showing up for others and herself. No airs, no ego, all humility, humor, yet FIRE.

I was just about to see her in a few weeks. I am recording the next chapter of Coin Coin, and jaimie was to be on the record. Coin Coin is specifically set up to feature different musicians and ensembles I am interested in vibration wise. But I also purposely call on people who have inspired me/helped me stay afloat mentally in this madness called art life. When the project is all said and done it will represent a patchwork quilt of voices that have meant a lot to me over the years.

I  was so stoked to have jaimie onboard.

In this past phase of my own exploration, I am not as public facing on social media platforms right now. I have instead been using that energy to get more behind the scenes of the multi communities I inhabit. I felt like I didn’t just want to be an artist placed and supportively displayed by an organization, booker, institution’s platform, I wanted to have a hand in creating those actual platforms, helping to keep moving forward the diverse community I want to continue seeing.  So I have gotten more involved in artistic advisory boards, panels, and in the last few years a great deal of Covid 19 relief for artists. Previous to this, I had also started to take on certain arts folk I admired, as little creativity/giving back to the community, love projects, which just translated to my bugging them…Which is hysterical to think about bc I am not really the best keep in touch kind of person, any of my kindred will tell you this, but I will do it for a purpose… Art is my purpose…Anyhow, I digress…  These certain art folks I admired, I would bug them as I said.  Asking questions, seeing how they are really doing on a day to day level. Reminding them of deadlines, opportunities. I do this not to pat myself on the back in any way, I do this bc people did it and are still doing it for me… jaimie was one of the folks on my little list… I wanted to see her winning. Always. She had that special mystical knowledge that only folks who can recite by memory the color of the wallpaper at Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge, Sunday night jams knows LOL…It is midwestern, it is ancestral and really one of a kind. She understood where the sound inquiry came from and was devoted to paying homage while looking far ahead to alternative futures. Jaimie was one of the hardest working musicians in the sonic arts game and despite challenges she was moving upwards, going hard, signaling high, with her own purpose, standing firm in her own truth. I was soooooooooo proud of her.

And now I am sooooooooooooo sad.

Ryan wasn’t on my little love support list btw, and you wanna know why? Because, though he never said it directly, I knew I was on his LOL! And I loved him for this.

The passing of both of these true artistic allies, leaves such a large hole in American sonic creativity. I can’t really compute its size. Ryan and jaimie represented two different ends of the adventurous music spectrum, but they had huge humble hearts, lovingly forged in the center of a shit storm country, that made it easy for them to meet right in the middle, on an east coast stage with some of my wild ideas and concepts.

I will miss them both terribly.

And I guess I will just keep this letter as brief as I can and somewhat clunky, because I/We need to get back to the creative work. Ryan, nor Jaimie wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Don’t take your time for granted eh? It ain’t guaranteed for any of us…Get to work, and check in on your kindred. Even the ones that “look” like they are doing ok. Looks, I continue to learn, but still too often forget, are forever deceiving

Sorry for any typos herein…

Yours in creativity,

M.

p.s.

  1.  I did know that jaimie was not Chicago born like me… but her ethos will always remind me of Chicago, in some really vital ways.
  2.  As a coping mechanism in the digital age, when I have lost loved arts folk I scour the net for recent audio interviews so I can hear their actual voice and be crystal clear on what needs to continue to be carried forward.

Amazing one here from Ryan

Absolutely Fantastic one here from jaimie 

May they both rest in an everlasting eternal peace.