Domo Branch and Branchin’ Out


Domo Branch photo courtesy of the artist

Thursday, July 21, 7:30pm
The Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave S


Presented by The Royal Room and Earshot Jazz

On July 21, major up and coming drummer/composer/producer Domo Branch returns to his roots in the Pacific Northwest for a quartet show at The Royal Room with vocalist Imani Rousselle, pianist Sean Mason, saxophonist Abdias Armenteros, and Ben Feldman on bass. The sets will likely feature selections from Branch’s new album, We Are Made (2022), which features this lineup as well as Branch’s mentor Stefon Harris on vibraphone. 

An active member of the Portland music scene in his youth, Branch’s talents lead him to a full scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music in 2018. Along with his partner Matt Malanowski, Branch co-owns Sound Poet Productions and also co-leads the band Brown Branch with childhood friend Charlie Brown III. Recent tours and performances have found him alongside major jazz figures such as Wynton Marsalis and Diane Reeves, as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center and an appearance at the PDX Jazz Festival. He has been heard at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Konzerthaus Berlin, and Carnegie Hall, amongst other major venues. As a producer, Branch has focused his efforts in the hip hop vein on his 2022 release, A Painful Truth, which explores his experiences coming of age as a Black man in North Portland. 

From the repetitive grooving chapters of “The Journey” to spacious and thoughtful vocal ballads such as “We Are Made”, and “Cause of You,” a sense of optimism pervades Branch’s latest release, We Are Made; no doubt a result of his experiences as a motivational speaker. Branch’s personal motto, “Heal, Motivate, Inspire,” shines through in these compositions and in his reflection that: “I put my mind toward healing, motivating, and inspiring through music with an album that evokes stories of our pasts and how they affect our future. I also wanted to create music that gives the spirit and consciousness of my generation.” 

Branch’s focus on musical healing is matched in spirit with vocalist Imani Rousselle, who strives toward “delivering an aural healing to her audience that will linger beyond the time shared…” Texas born, but now based in New York City, Rousselle honed her interests ranging far beyond jazz standards into Romantic masterworks, bluegrass, spirituals, and ragas while earning a master’s degree in Jazz Voice at the Manhattan School of Music. Rousselle has been heard around New York at illustrious venues such as Smalls Jazz Club, the recently shuttered 55 Bar, Dizzy’s Club, and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, alongside the stylings of trumpeter Sean Jones, saxophonist Casey Benjamin, and Harris. Prior to her time in New York, Rousselle resided in Chicago where she co-led the group Human Bloom with Jackson Shepard, performing at the Green Mill, Jazz Showcase, and other locations. 

Having not started to play the piano until a teenager, Sean Mason has seen a meteoric rise to the national level. After a brief stint at Julliard, Mason found himself onstage with Marsalis, Mariel Bildsten, and featured on the soundtrack to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020). Ben Feldman similarly got his start playing the bass in his teens, playing professionally around Seattle while still in high school before moving to New York to pursue musical studies at the Manhattan School of Music. He has been heard with Dave Liebman, Joey Alexander, Regina Carter, and Matt Wilson. Tickets at earshot.org.


Posted on

July 5, 2022