THE JAMIE BAUM SEPTET, IN THIS LIFE


Appearing with her septet at the Jazz Standard in New York on November 19 in support of In This Life, an astonishing and beautiful album, I watched a busy and conscientious Jamie Baum dart about the club making last minute changes to her set list and double-checking the soloing order of her musicians. A determined and focused flute player, Baum’s recording was inspired by her travels to India and South Asia, and most directly the devotional music of singer Pakistani Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. But, as she explains “my goal was not to compose or play in these styles, but to have my experiences inspire new ways of writing and improvising.”

I first saw Baum perform with her group over two years ago in a small now-defunct club and even then her creativity seemed larger than her small stature. On the Standard’s bandstand, she led a group that she’s remarkably kept assembled for 14 years, making resoundingly original music that’s warmly accessible and unerringly performed. Currently comprised of some of New York’s finest jazz musicians (many with their own current solo projects), a testament to her leadership skill, Baum spoke in humble tones about the inspiration that resulted from her cultural experiences, both secular and religious that provided an existential epiphany that’s memorably expressed through In This Life.

Baum’s superior charts give the project a small big band sound -- she layers waves of quietly majestic sound enriched by first-class trumpeters Amir ElSaffir and Taylor Haskins, and horn players Chris Komer and Douglas Yates. Propelled by bustling rhythm and brass, "Nusrat" is a brief yet bracing feature for the entire septet. Bassist Zack Lober and conga player Samuel Torres lay a deep groove on “Ants and Other Faithful Beings,” a rhythmic gem with a riveting theme and gorgeous solo by pianist John Escreet. Baum’s solo style favors warm, chamber jazz-like phrasing, reminiscent of Hubert Laws, one of Baum’s many teachers and influences.

As satisfying as it is heartfelt, Baum’s experiences vividly evokes many moods, especially the title cut that’s framed with the soft, medium tempo of a ballad and wistful licks by downtown guitarist Brad Shepik, but contains a jumpy mid-section that sports jagged piano lines and dramatic harmonies for brass.  On the poetic and loving “While We Are Here” and the anthem-like “The Game” (dig that Dan Weiss tabla accompaniment), Baum sets herself free from the constraints of straight-ahead jazz, incorporating a range of subtle musical styles that ultimately gives In This Life its welcome contours. (11 tracks; 65 minutes)

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JAZZ IN SPACE: THE JAMIE BAUM SEPTET, IN THIS LIFE

Thursday, December 5, 2013

THE JAMIE BAUM SEPTET, IN THIS LIFE


Appearing with her septet at the Jazz Standard in New York on November 19 in support of In This Life, an astonishing and beautiful album, I watched a busy and conscientious Jamie Baum dart about the club making last minute changes to her set list and double-checking the soloing order of her musicians. A determined and focused flute player, Baum’s recording was inspired by her travels to India and South Asia, and most directly the devotional music of singer Pakistani Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. But, as she explains “my goal was not to compose or play in these styles, but to have my experiences inspire new ways of writing and improvising.”

I first saw Baum perform with her group over two years ago in a small now-defunct club and even then her creativity seemed larger than her small stature. On the Standard’s bandstand, she led a group that she’s remarkably kept assembled for 14 years, making resoundingly original music that’s warmly accessible and unerringly performed. Currently comprised of some of New York’s finest jazz musicians (many with their own current solo projects), a testament to her leadership skill, Baum spoke in humble tones about the inspiration that resulted from her cultural experiences, both secular and religious that provided an existential epiphany that’s memorably expressed through In This Life.

Baum’s superior charts give the project a small big band sound -- she layers waves of quietly majestic sound enriched by first-class trumpeters Amir ElSaffir and Taylor Haskins, and horn players Chris Komer and Douglas Yates. Propelled by bustling rhythm and brass, "Nusrat" is a brief yet bracing feature for the entire septet. Bassist Zack Lober and conga player Samuel Torres lay a deep groove on “Ants and Other Faithful Beings,” a rhythmic gem with a riveting theme and gorgeous solo by pianist John Escreet. Baum’s solo style favors warm, chamber jazz-like phrasing, reminiscent of Hubert Laws, one of Baum’s many teachers and influences.

As satisfying as it is heartfelt, Baum’s experiences vividly evokes many moods, especially the title cut that’s framed with the soft, medium tempo of a ballad and wistful licks by downtown guitarist Brad Shepik, but contains a jumpy mid-section that sports jagged piano lines and dramatic harmonies for brass.  On the poetic and loving “While We Are Here” and the anthem-like “The Game” (dig that Dan Weiss tabla accompaniment), Baum sets herself free from the constraints of straight-ahead jazz, incorporating a range of subtle musical styles that ultimately gives In This Life its welcome contours. (11 tracks; 65 minutes)

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