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Jamie Baum: In This Life

Hrayr Attarian By

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Flutist and composer Jamie Baum's In This Life is a richly textured album both in a harmonic and conceptual sense. Inspired by her travels through India and Nepal and influenced by the music of the late Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, this collection of intriguing originals (and two Khan covers) is simultaneously deeply spiritual and vibrantly organic.

As a leader, Baum often alternates the ensemble sounds of the wind players with those of the rhythm section created innovative and enchanting multilayered patterns. On "The Meeting," for instance these ornamental motifs form the backdrop for bassist Zachary Lober's yearning and deeply lyrical reverberations. Baum's muscular, pensive flute emerges out of Lober's complex bass lines and pirouettes around them in a vaguely eastern flavored duet.

In contrast on "Inner Voices," a darkly hued and mystical piece, individual musicians supply interweaving threads to the sonic tapestry. The classically influenced interplay between Lober and pianist John Escreet that opens the song gradually evolves into a hypnotic refrain. Over this, trumpeter Amir ElSaffar's clear, undulating tones enter with Baum's breathy flute following closely behind. ElSaffar and Baum trade bars with reedman Douglas Yates' warm, sonorous bass clarinet. Yates and Baum simultaneously blow stimulating, streams of consciousness, improvisations that are more of a pair of monologues than an actual dialogue.

These orchestrations allow the band members ample room for personal expressions while keeping a thematic unity both within each track and through out the disc as a whole. The cinematic "Monkeys of Gokarna Forest" showcases Escreet's percussive, advanced and intricately constructed pianism. His spontaneous melody, replete with energetic glissandos, and thrilling tonal circles, brings a raw passion to the tune. Trumpeter Taylor Haskins' mellow, meandering solo tempers this fervor with a relaxed, magical wisdom.

Similarly, guitarist Brad Shepik's oud like flowing strings mark the melancholic and ethereal ballad "In Another Life." His long and echoing notes have elements of both eastern styles and the blues. Mirroring his extemporization is Baum's evocative, serpentine and wistful flute.

Although Jamie Baum has only led a handful of recording sessions over the past two decades, each one however, has been more accomplished, more sublime, and more sophisticated than its predecessor. In This Life is no exception. Bringing together multiple heritages her work is a testament of the universality of the musical language.

Track Listing: Nusrat; 
The Meeting; 
Ants and Other Faithful Beings; In Another Life; Monkeys of Gokarna Forest; While We Are Here; Richie's Lament; The Game; In a Nutshell; Inner Voices; 
Sweet Pain/Nusrat

Personnel: Jamie Baum: Flute; Amir ElSaffar: trumpet,;Taylor Haskins: trumpet; Douglas Yates: alto sax and bass clarinet;
Chris Komer; French horn; John Escreet: keyboard; Brad Shepik: guitar; Zach Lober: bass; Jeff Hirshfield,
Dan Weiss: tabla; Samuel Torres: percussion, conga

Title: In This Life | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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