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Audio CD, May 20, 2008
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Jazz flutists are rare: Eric Dolphy, Hubert Laws, James Newton, and Kent Jordan, come to mind as some of the best and brightest on that instrument. With her new release and Sunnyside debut CD, Solace, the critically acclaimed flutist/composer/bandleader Jamie Baum joins that illustrious list. Backed by her long-standing septet featuring trumpeter Ralph Alessi, saxophonist/bass clarinetist Douglas Yates, French horn virtuoso Vincent Chancey, pianist George Colligan, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, Baum delivers an impressive CD that is the definitive display of her all-encompassing talents and is comprehensive in its musical scope.

Two selections are indicative of Baum s artistry: Wheeler of Fortune, is an evocative composition dedicated to the great trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler. As a guest artist in 2006, I was invited along with my band to perform and teach at the University of Alaska Jazz Festival at Fairbanks, Baum writes in the CD liner notes. The director of the program, Glenn White (an excellent musician and friend), had the savvy to obtain the score to Kenny Wheeler s Sweet Time Suite for us to perform with the big band. Having been a longtime fan, it was a great opportunity to really check out a piece that for me exemplified the warmth, beauty and energy characteristic of his music. Shortly after that trip I wrote Wheeler of Fortune.

Baum s interpretive powers are on full and dynamic display in her four-part Ives Suite, her ingenious extension and elaboration of classical composer Charles Ives groundbreaking use of multitonality, polyrhythms, and simultaneous melodies. In 2003 I was fortunate to receive a grant from Chamber Music America s New Works: Creation and Presentation Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to write music for this septet based on chosen Charles Ives compositions, Baum wrote. Around the time I was deciding on which pieces to focus my efforts, my friend Frank Tafuri offered me tickets to hear him sing with the Dessoff Choir performing Ives Fourth Symphony with the NY Philharmonic. ... Inspired by the Fourth Symphony, I decided to call Parts 1 and 2 Time Traveler because upon hearing his piece, it becomes evident that he was, and still is, ahead of his time. The Unanswered Question was the basis of Parts 3 and 4. My interest and intention was never to rearrange his music or to have mine sound like his, but to try to communicate the spirit and feel his music has, put to a jazz context.

Rounding out the CD are the florid, midtempo title track, the lithe and lilting Far Side, the ballad, In Passing, the Latin tinged Pine s Creek, and the rhythmically challenging Dave s Idea. There is also a bonus downloadable track Tag featuring Doug Yates incomparable bass clarinet solo. On all of the tracks Baum s warm-toned flute and alto flute are beautifully supported and counter-stated by the lickety-split rhythm section and the rich horn lines, signatured with supple, Gil Evans and Herbie Hancock/Speak Like a Child-like voicings.
Solace is the passport to all of the places and spaces of Jamie Baum s musical universe. Like most musicians, I am influenced by so many artists and styles ... I ve been fortunate to hear and play with many great musicians both in NYC and abroad...I m sure that they are all in here, somewhere.


Solace is a no-frills, 74-minute-long major statement by flutist, composer and arranger Jamie Baum. Its impressive centerpiece is her four-part "Ives Suite," the first two parts - each titled "Time Traveler" - based on Charles Ives' "Fourth Symphony," and parts three and four based on his "The Unanswered Question." Baum wanted to "communicate the spirit and feel his music has, put to a jazz context," and uses the tools that the iconoclastic Ives relied on in the early 20th century, such as polyphony, polyrhythms and dissonance. Part three, "Questions Unanswered," is particularly striking, where Kyoko Kitamura's atonal vocalizing and then her chanting of the words "misleading," "unintended," "blame" and "grey zone," in addition to recorded excerpts from speeches by President John F. Kennedy, all combine to form a powerful anti-war statement.

Baum's rich and fresh voicing for her longtime septet, whether playing melodies or in counterpoint, are most responsible for the laudable success of all the pieces on this CD. Her own flute, the trumpets of Ralph Alessi and Shane Endsley, the alto sax or bass clarinet of Douglas Yates, the French horns of Vincent Chancey and Chris Komer, and the rhythm section of pianist George Colligan, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, are all utilized by Baum in endlessly imaginative and ingratiating ways. Baum's use of ostinatos for many arrangements of her compositions is also quite distinctive and effective. The soloists are notably inspired throughout. The flutist's tribute to Kenny Wheeler, "Wheeler of Fortune," with its tone-rowed theme, is a standout, as are the convoluted, yearning "Solace," the dirge-like ballad "In Passing," and the light-hearted "Pine Creek."
- Scott Albin --JazzTimes - July/August 2008

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.

- Glenn Astarita - Aug. 5, 2008

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Product details

  • Audio CD (May 20, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sunny Side Records
  • ASIN: B00175G6V4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,130 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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November 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD
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