Throughout her career as a jazz musician, Jamie Baum has followed an uncommon path. It began with her choice of instrument, the flute. While you’ll see many accomplished sax players pick up the flute to play ensemble parts in a big band, very few make it a primary solo instrument these days. Over the past two decades, Baum has shown that the flute is not just a jazz novelty, but an instrument that can be the emotional epicenter of a band. Her global range of influences and intricate, uniquely-textured arrangements say loud and clear that she and her instrument must be taken seriously.
On Friday at The Jazz Gallery, Baum will lead her “Septet +” in a performance of music off her most recent, acclaimed album, In This Life (Sunnyside). Her compositions on the record draw on musical experiences from all over the world, including her trips to South Asia as a US jazz ambassador and her love of the music of legendary Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In a recent interview on NPR’s All Things Considered program, Baum told host Arun Rath about her attempts to unlock the mysteries of the singer’s style:
I actually did some transcribing of his vocal improvisations to get, you know, an idea of what he was doing. It was rather challenging because it’s so fast and his technical ability is just uncanny. So I think I had to, you know, use a slowdown machine two or three times to finally sort of get an idea of what he was doing. And it was very revealing both rhythmically and his embellishment and the way that he develops his solos.
“Nusrat,” the first track on In This Life, doesn’t simply imitate Khan’s supercharged, dextrous lines, but captures their essence in a modern jazz language very much of Baum’s own design.
Jamie Baum’s ability to take influences from around the world and recast them in her own distinctive style is what makes the music on In This Life so contemporary and vibrant. Don’t miss your chance to hear this vital music live.
The Jamie Baum Septet + performs at the Jazz Gallery on Friday, February 21st, 2014. The group features Baum on flutes, Amir ElSaffar on trumpet, Douglas Yates on alto sax & bass clarinet, Chris Komer on French horn, Brad Shepik on guitar, John Escreet on piano, Zach Lober on bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m., $20 general admission ($10 for members). Purchase tickets here.