When flautist/composer Jamie Baum releases a new album, many modern jazz aficionados take notice. With a core septet and others sitting in on various works, Baum pays homage to trumpeter/flugelhorn great Kenny Wheeler, and modern classicist Charles Ives. One of the many highlights of this set includes the "Ives Suite," where she rearranges the composer's famous "Unanswered Questions" amid the four parts that are composed around his "Fourth Symphony." Baum's uncanny ability to transpose dense, multi-tiered arrangements into mainstream, cutting-edge stylizations simply equates to highly entertaining form factor.
Baum professes the beauty of morphing interesting compositions with memorable hooks and a multitude of hues and shades. At times, these pieces convey a little big band vibe, partly due to a string of interweaving exchanges and seamless shifts in cadence. Here, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, saxophonist Douglas Yates, pianist George Colligan and others mix it up quite effectively. With the four-part "Ives Suite," the ensemble integrates unusual harmonic components to parallel some of Ives' cutting-edge tonal frameworks. In effect, the suite is designed upon various movements that overlap and flourish via recurring sub-themes and stately horns choruses. Then, on "In Passing," Baum's dark and moody flute lines are lucidly counterbalanced by bassist Johannes Weidenmueller's soul-searching solo jaunt.
Overall, the music iterated throughout this endeavor contains a potpourri of jazz-centric passages, spanning brash soloing spots and expansive motifs that conjoin via a domino-like thread. Baum's musical journey offers the drama and intensity of a cinematic thriller or cliffhanger, which is sure to keep her audience at the edge of their seats.
Personnel: Jamie Baum: flute, alto flute; Ralph Alessi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Vincent Chancey: French horn; George Colligan: piano; Jeff Hirschfield: drums; Johannes Weidenmueller: bass; Douglas Yates: saxophone, bass clarinet; Shane Endsley: trumpet; Chris Komer: French horn; Kyoko Kitamura: voice.