From Jamie Baum Septet+'s "Bridges" (Sunnyside, 5/18/18).
Hailed by Downbeat for her “remarkable artistic facility” and by The New York Times for her “remarkable balance of fluidity and restless creativity,” New York-based flutist/composer and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow Jamie Baum is proud to announce the release of her sixth CD as a leader, Bridges, featuring The Jamie Baum Septet+. The highly anticipated follow-up to her 2013 recording In This Life, Bridges offers yet another recording of incredible depth, beauty, spirituality, undiluted zeal and is the culmination of Baum’s search for common links between some of the world’s great religious music traditions. While conducting research for her Guggenheim Fellowship Award, Baum explains, “I found there to be very deep connections going back centuries, between certain types of Jewish music (my earliest musical influences), and Muslim/Arabic and Hindu/South Asian music.” Exploring these musical connections, and composing new music inspired by her findings, became the focus of Bridges.
Baum’s advanced harmonic sensibility and sonic imagination, beautifully brought to life by the stellar members of her long-running ensemble, proves yet again the capacity of modern jazz to absorb and transform music of diverse traditions, without sacrificing the improvisatory element at the core of jazz’s identity. In her album notes Baum cites Wikipedia’s definition of the word “bridge,” one that seems to sum up her artistic mission here: “a structure built to span physical obstacles without closing the way underneath.” At the same time, Baum’s musical wanderings highlight something even deeper: our shared humanity, and the common threads that run throughout our history.
With great respect for these varied traditions and their vast languages, Baum’s goal was not to play or compose exactly in these styles, but to have her travels and playing experiences inspire new ways of writing and improvising. The diverse musicians who make up the Jamie Baum Septet+ are all first-call artists on the jazz scene, many of them accomplished leaders in their own right. Their presence gives Baum limitless compositional freedom and inspiration: “Having specific players to write for is a bandleader/composer’s dream and offers an incredible opportunity for experimentation and growth,” she says. We hear this borne out in the lyrical melodies, intricate contrapuntal passages and complex rhythmic ideas at the heart of Bridges, and in the textural warmth and surprise of Sam Sadigursky’s alto sax and bass clarinet, Brad Shepik’s guitar, Amir ElSaffar’s trumpet and voice, John Escreet’s dazzlingly virtuosic piano and of course Baum’s compelling improvisations on flute and alto flute throughout the album.
- Jazz & Blues