Plunky's Autobiography Due June 20, 2016
Plunky’s Autobiography Due June 20, 2016
The new book, Plunky: Juju Jazz Funk & Oneness – A Musical Memoir, is an overnight success story, 50 years in the making. It documents James Plunky Branch’s career in music and arts activism, and delivers his memoir as a straight forward recollection of anecdotes, journals, and photographs. An early proponent of Afro-jazz and funk, Plunky, with his group Oneness of Juju with their deep rare grooves and progressive political themes, generated international critical acclaim.
Plunky: Juju Jazz Funk & Oneness is all about decades of transitions, completed circles, and momentous meetings. It is not a standard sex, drugs and rock & roll exposé; rather it is an insider’s look behind the scenes of the independent Black jazz and soul music business and Plunky’s philosophies and methodologies that allowed him to persevere and come out on top.
While he is primarily a saxophonist, performer and producer, it is his business acumen, his communication skills and his commitment to progressivism that sets Plunky apart. Musicians everywhere can be heartened by Plunky’s shared lessons of balancing the achievement of local stardom with persistently striving for wider, international acclaim.
This is the memoir of an urban underground artist, straight outta RVA, NYC, SF, London, Paris and Accra. In it we learn Plunky is homegrown, ghetto fabulous, self-actualized and deeper than you’d otherwise ever know. Plunky’s autobiography is a thought-provoking account of various phases of his life as a black musician from the 1960s forward. He has said “I’m not a superstar, but I do play one on local stages.”
Plunky’s long, successful career is a testament to the power of persistence. Reading his story reminds us all to never quit. Plunky dedicates his book is to those artists, both legendary and unsung, who have inspired him and to the readers he hopes his story will, in turn, encourage.
Plunky Branch began his music career while attending Columbia University in New York City in 1967. He moved to San Francisco during the tumultuous 1970’s and established his African avant-garde group, Juju. Migrating back to NY Plunky began working with free jazz pioneers Ornette Coleman, Pharaoh Sanders, Sam Rivers and artists on the Strata-East Record label. Upon returning to his native Richmond, VA where he currently resides, Plunky spearheaded that region’s Black arts movement and founded Branches of the Arts, Inc., a non-profit community arts organization. For the next several decades he and his band, Plunky & Oneness of Juju, would continue to evolve, while touring in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. A studio musician, record producer, writer of over 400 songs, producer of a documentary film on Afro-Cuban music, he is the subject himself of two feature length documentary films: Plunky Live In Paris and Plunky: Never Too Late - The Documentary. J. Plunky Branch has released over 35 albums through his two independent record companies. A political activist, educator and writer, he was recognized by the Library of Virginia as one of the 2015 Strong Men and Women in Virginia History.
“I met Plunky over 40 years ago when he frequented my performances as a fan of my music. He would, later, follow and expand on some of the things I was doing, combining the rhythms and spirit of African music with high energy improvisation. Reading his book, it is evident that Plunky seeks and imparts wisdom through music, and is relentless in his pursuit of new ways to elevate our collective consciousness.” – Pharaoh Sanders, saxophonist
“From the very first notes of Plunky & Oneness of Juju concert, I remember just saying to myself, “Wow!” and I realized I’d been waiting for that musical salvation since a young age. His humility, kindness and super funky performances are why I’m so in to this unique artist and special soul that is James Plunky Branch. I thank the Universe for letting me be a small part of his incredible destiny.” –Sheidia Badja, French music journalist and promoter
“In the 1970’s, with his music and his foresight, Plunky helped Richmond experience a cultural awakening that continues today. His organization, Branches of the Arts, Inc., was an incubator for Black visual and performing arts. The Richmond Jazz Society is the sweet fruit born from that tree of life and we celebrate 35 years of educating, preserving and advancing Jazz music as a true American art form. Plunky’s autobiography is a blueprint for the next generations to use to prepare to take up the banner.” – B. J. Brown, Executive Director, Richmond Jazz Society
“Plunky's writing is conversational, in that it's like listening to him speak to me right here. I like that! And, it's a history lesson: there is so much the listening public doesn't know or wouldn't know unless told by a music insider...and Plunky was an insider. This is His-Story. From the first chapter I kept thinking “More, more, I want more!” - Faunee, Washington, DC jazz radio host/producer