5. The Jamie Baum Septet + : Bridges (Sunnyside, 2018)
An album this complex, angular, and eclectic should not be as listenable as it is. Yet Baum is much like Kirk in her embrace of all of the flute’s possibilities. The three-part centerpiece of Bridges, “Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite,” is a major statement both for Baum personally and for the flute. (Part 2 alone displays her remarkable dexterity of both the hands and the melodic imagination.) Not to be neglected, though, is her ear for how the instrument blends, whether with trumpet, alto saxophone, tamboura, or even Brad Shepik’s distorted electric guitar. (Pianist John Escreet deserves special mention, being Baum’s constant musical companion on the disc.) At her best, however, she blends with herself, applying effects to her flute so that her improvisation is rendered in octaves. A formidable work.