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Baikida Carroll

Baikida Carroll

“The essence of what we do is improvisation,” says trumpeter Baikida Carroll of jazz musicians. “That means you’re supposed to be making stuff up every night. To constantly do that throughout the years you have to bring in new elements, new sources to pull from, setting yourself up in different environments to test your mettle, to see how you respond to particular situations. So I try to write situations that will bring things out of the improvisers.” Marionettes on a High Wire (OmniTone), the superb new album by the St. Louis native and former member of the Black Artist Group (BAG), delivers a case-in-point manifestation of these points with a deceptive simplicity.

With the aid of his excellent working quintet-pianist Adegoke Steve Colson, bassist Michael Formanek, tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay and drummer Pheeroan akLaff-Carroll sketches out beautifully lyric themes with sensitive arrangements, but as pretty as the melodies are and as swinging as the performance of these 10 originals gets, there’s a well-hidden complexity to the material.

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