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New Jazz in New Orleans...

With a master’s degree in music earned at "The Manhattan School of Music," and some top-notch recordings to her credit, Baum’s muse is heavily influenced by Stravinsky and Bartok. But there’s no doubt about it, Baum’s compositions are snuggly rooted within the modern jazz vernacular, while affording her soloists’ ample stretching room.

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi displayed a blistering attack along with some impressive bass clarinet and alto sax work by Douglas Yates. However, Baum’s arrangements are structured upon polytonal contrasts and multi-layered arrangements, often generated by the soloists’ complex unison choruses. More often than not, the flutist twists austere, classical patterns into graceful jazz elements, counterbalanced by syncopated rhythms.

Baum’s recently composed piece titled "Pine Creek," was conceived during some quality time spent at her parents’ Connecticut home. Here, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller laid down a booming ostinato groove as the band generated swift movements, nicely tinged with pianist Gary Versace’s trickling, upper register lines: Thus, providing the watercourse effect. No doubt, lucid imagery abounded throughout this piece, accelerated by French horn luminary Tom Varner’s zealous soloing. Another highlight was the group’s pumped up rendition of Miles Davis’ "Frelon Brun (Brown Hornet )," featuring Yates’ humorously concocted, circus-music type quotes.

Overall, the band cooked through various swing metrics and odd metered time signatures, amid the precision and exacting nature of a finely tuned machine. Baum also performed works from her recent and highly praised OmniTone Records release "Moving Forward, Standing Still." To that end, her stylistic approach to jazz was warmly received by the near sold out room located within this sizeable and multi-functional arts center. But, the moral to this story should indicate that there is an audience here in New Orleans for artists’ who stretch traditional boundaries into exciting new frontiers.

Jamie Baum - Composer/flutes, Ralph Alessi - Trumpet, Jeff Hirschfield - Drums, Tom Varner - French horn, Gary Versace - Piano, Johannes Weidenmueller - Bass, Douglas Yates - Alto sax, bass clarinet.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jamie Baum Septet
  • Concert Date: 1/14/2005
  • Venue: Contemporary Arts Center
  • City State Country: New Orleans, LA
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