Saxophonist J. Plunky Branch is an experienced performer, songwriter and music and film producer. He is president of his own independent record label, N.A.M.E. Brand Records, through which he has released 30 albums. With his group, Plunky & Oneness, he has appeared in concert with some of the biggest names in Black music, including Patti Labelle, Ray Charles, Earth Wind & Fire, Yellow Jackets, Frankie Beverly & Maze, LL Cool J, Chuck Brown, and more. His song “Every Way But Loose” was a top-ten soul music chart hit in London in the 1980’s and his hit single, “Drop,” was released in 2007. Now in 2019 he continues to produce and tour with his band playing rousing funk, jazz, African, rap and R&B.
Plunky started making Afro-jazz in San Francisco and in New York in the 1970s. Since then he has written over 450 songs, toured in Europe, been to Africa six times, visited Cuba twice, played hundreds of gigs, made documentary films, written his autobiography, and received numerous prestigious awards. Plunky & Oneness is his band of musical nomads based in Virginia. The group includes three Branches: Plunky (saxes, vocals), Muzi (bass, vocals) and Fire (percussion, tracks), Plunky, his brother and his son. Featured vocalist, Charlayne “Chyp” Green, has been with the ensemble for almost 20 years, but she is both seasoned and fresh. Keyboardist J. L Harris and guitarist Carl Lester El combine forces with master percussionists, Asante and Abdou Mohammed to create Afro-jazz-funk grooves to make you dance.
Plunky & Oneness performed at the New Orleans World’s Fair, the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta (four times) and twice at the Capital Jazz Festival in Maryland. They have appeared at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Lincoln Center in New York the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and in other prestigious venues. For more than 20 years Plunky has toured continually with support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA).
In 2018, J. Plunky Branch received the prestigious “50 For 50 Award” from the VCA as one of the 50 outstanding arts persons in Virginia of the last 50 years. In 2015 he was selected as one of the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History by the Library of Virginia.
In addition to being a veteran saxophonist and composer, J. Plunky Branch has served as an administrator, lecturer and teacher. Plunky is a two-time recipient of NEA Jazz Fellowships and he was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force for the Promotion of the Arts in Virginia. He has taught at Virginia Union University and Virginia Commonwealth University, both in Richmond.
Throughout his career Plunky has entertained and taught thousands, and in the process, has developed a broad and loyal following. During his 1987 West African tour, critics proclaimed Plunky “one of the greatest living saxophonist!” In a context where rhythm, ritual, power and emotion reign supreme, he just might be!