Jamie Baum

Moving Forward, Standing Still

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A huge step forward from her already impressive 1997 debut, Jamie Baum's third album as a leader is simply outstanding. Baum's mixture of influences ranges from modern classical composers like Béla Bartók, whose commingling of Eastern European folk melodies and diaphanous romanticism is wittily updated on the punningly titled "Bar Talk," to '50s cool jazz masters like Gil Evans and Dave Brubeck. The opening "All Roads Lead to You" combines the two strains, in an unforced updating of the now largely moribund subgenre known as third stream. Baum was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, and her music occasionally recalls that of NECM faculty members Ran Blake and Jaki Byard, but with a livelier rhythmic sense, best heard on "In the Journey," which sets a cyclical main figure that would not sound out of place on a '70s Philip Glass record against a funky Latin beat. That sense of musical freedom, an unwillingness to limit herself simply to staid through-composed pieces, post-bop jazz classicism, or free improv experimentalism, but to mix and match the elements that suit her needs on a piece-by-piece basis, is what sets Baum apart from many of her peers, and what makes Moving Forward, Standing Still an immensely satisfying, exciting listen.

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