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April 1998

Jamie Baum
Sight Unheard
GM Recordings

Jamie Baum is an exciting musician whose playing and composing are at the heart of one of the year's most innovative projects. A nonpareil flutist who dances to a "drummer" whose spiritual sources embrace Bartok, Ligeti and Webern as well as Coltrane, Coleman and Davis, Baum can perhaps best be described as an abstract lyricist. On the haunting title track, for example, the dark meldings of alto flute and trumpet evoke a noirish nightscape galvanized by adventurous forays led by Baum and pianist Kenny Werner.

In "Aftermath," a lively Pollack-like canvas splashed with bold colors, a sizzling underbeat gives rise to interactive dialogues between Baum, trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. The simpatico between Baum and Douglas is a thing of stark beauty. So, too, the conversations with her other colleagues. The doubled line with bassist Gress in "Evolution" is striking. Hirshfield's lithe pulse is also a plus. So, too, the two fine pianists, veteran Kenny Werner and newcomer Roberta Piket. Eerily beautiful, this is new and challenging music which also speaks to the heart.

Originally published in April 1998
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