Joseph Branciforte is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer, composer, and sound artist based out of New York City.
His wide-ranging musical interests have situated him at the intersection of several of New York’s most fertile progressive music scenes – from jazz and improvised music, to modern composition and chamber; from sound art and computer-aided composition, to creative and experimental rock and pop. At the bottom of each of these seemingly discrete musical threads lies an undying fascination with sound as a profound emotional medium – organized through musical form, articulated by a careful selection of sound sources, and framed through the act of recording.
As recording engineer and producer, Branciforte has worked on over 150 releases for some of the most well-respected names in creative jazz, including Ben Monder, Tim Berne, Vijay Iyer, Marc Ribot, Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Steve Lehman, Mark Dresser, Jen Shyu, and Matt Mitchell. His credits also include a growing number of classical, electronic, and alternative projects ranging from Florent Ghys and Empyrean Atlas to Son Lux and The Lumineers. Albums he has produced, engineered, and/or mixed have been included in the NPR Jazz Critics’ Poll Top 10 and Downbeat Magazine’s Albums of the Year, and have received praise from publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and All Music Guide. His engineering and production work can be heard on ECM Records, Sunnyside Records, Cantaloupe Music, Pi Recordings, Cryptogramophone, Cuneiform Records, and Skirl Records.
As a composer, he has developed a unique process of real-time generative composition for instrumental ensembles using custom software of his own design. This technique involves generating a notated piece of music from scratch during performance, according to real-time input from the composer and a series of pre-defined musical rules. The resultant musical information is displayed to performers as traditional musical notation via networked laptops. This process makes possible a continuously updatable “interactive score,” one that is new to both audience and performers alike with each realization. In early 2017, he will debut a chamber project in collaboration with electronic musician/composer Kenneth Kirschner (12k) and members of JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, and Bang on Can that features recent works created using this technique.
As performer, he has developed a solo improvisation practice around the Fender Rhodes, extended with a wide variety of processing and looping devices, percussion and found objects, homemade and modified stringed instruments, and cassette recorders. In addition to working towards a solo release of this music in 2017, he has embarked upon several collaborations in this format, including one with Grammy-nominated vocalist Theo Bleckmann.
Branciforte is also the co-leader, co-composer, and drummer of the The Cellar and Point, a “garage-chamber” septet formed in 2010. The group, which combines aspects of modern composition, jazz improvisation, and pop/rock songwriting has been called “one of the most interesting bands of the moment, perhaps able to answer the question ‘where is music going?’” (All About Jazz) The band’s debut record, Ambit – produced, engineered, and mixed by Branciforte – was released on Cuneiform Records in late 2014. All Music Guide lauded Ambit as “one of 2014’s finest albums of challenging, engaging, and genre-defying contemporary music,” and John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds, included the recording on his Top 10 Albums of 2014.
Branciforte similarly played the role of producer, recording engineer, and mixing engineer on Ben Monder’s Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013), “an eight-song set of impossible, beautiful, mind-melting music” (The Village Voice / #3 Jazz Album of 2013). JazzTimes called the project “technically brilliant and radiantly produced,” while Stereophile Magazine awarded it five stars for sonics: “The sound captures every intimate string squeak, fat bass tone, warp-speed ensemble passage, and ghostly vocal swell.”
Joseph is also in-demand as a location-recording engineer. He has engineered multitrack recordings at dozens of NYC clubs, halls, and stages including The Village Vanguard, The Stone, Roulette, Issue Project Room, The Jazz Gallery, Central Park Summerstage, and Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series.
He is a graduate of the Electronic Production and Design program at Berklee College of Music and a contributing writer for TapeOp magazine.