On April 18th, saxophonist J. Plunky Branch celebrated forty years of leading his ensemble “Plunky & Oneness” with a gala affair at the historic Hippodrome Theatre in Jackson Ward. Plunky’s music is expansive, reflecting a wide range of influences including rhythm and blues, African music, avant garde jazz, go-go, hip-hop, and funk. Over the last four decades, he’s composed hundreds of songs, recorded more than two dozen albums and has performed for audiences all over the world.
I spoke to Plunky Branch recently about his life and musical career. In the interview, he touches on what it was like to grow up in Richmond before integration, his time at Columbia University in the late 60’s, his political activism and how African influences have impacted his music.