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Experimenting with unconventional instrumentation is sometimes just thattesting an idea to see if it works. On Moving Forward, Standing Still , her third release as a leader, flautist Jamie Baum assembles an atypical combination of instruments, starting with her own and adding Tom Varner's French horn, Ralph Alessi's trumpet and flugelhorn and Doug Yate's alto saxophone and bass clarinet. The front line is supported by a rhythm section comprised of musicians who stretch the traditional roles: pianist George Colligan, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, joined by percussionist Yosuke Yamamoto on two tracks. The range of timbres offered by these instruments allows Baum to create an orchestral impression laced with rich harmonies, obliquely shifting melodies and dexterous rhythms.
The ensemble creates distinct layers of sound on "All Roads Lead to You," and as the parts converge, the pace quickens for Baum's lilting flute solo followed by Yate's burning alto. The rhythm section sets up the fleet "In the Journey," with Colligan's piano doubling the bass and the horns mirroring the same rhythm. Alessi takes advantage of the movement, showcasing his deft trumpet before the pianist gets a solo. The proceedings mellow on "Clarity," with Hirshfield coloring the spacious passages with subtle brushwork. Gress' nimble pizzicato anchors the opening section of "From Scratch/Primordial Prelude," supporting the sunny melody, before the tune shifts into introspection and another outstanding Alessi solo. Varner's horn gets the spotlight on "Central Park," backed by subtle bass clarinet and shimmering percussion from Yamamoto. The aptly titled "Bar Talk" boasts explicit movement and complex harmonic structure, while "Rivington Street Blues" is a quick ditty with swirling horns and a driving pulse.
Baum's experiment does more than show that the instrumentation works. It sounds natural and signals that Baum has reached a level of confidence as a composer unafraid to surprise and challenge listeners.
Track Listing: 1. All Roads Lead to You
2. Spring Rounds
3. In the Journey
5. From Scratch (Trilok Gurtu)
6. South Rim
7. Central Park
8. Bar Talk
10. Rivington Street Blues
Personnel: Jamie Baum - flute, alto flute
Ralph Alessi - trumpet, flugelhorn
Doug Yates - alto sax, bass clarinet
Tom Varner - French horn
George Colligan - piano
Drew Gress - bass
Jeff Hirshfield - drums
Yosuke Yamamoto - perc. (5,7)