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.”