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Overdue Ovation: Jamie Baum

Amid divergent influences, a guiding inner voice

Jamie Baum

Thirteen years ago Jamie Baum’s schedule was in full swing, with plans lined up like dominoes. Forty-eight hours before a daytrip to Washington, where she was slated to play the Kennedy Center, debrief at the State Department, then embark on her second international Jazz Ambassadors’ tour, the flutist was gigging in Bermuda. Baum’s first Ambassadors’ tour had dispatched her to Latin America two years prior; she’d requested India, but in 1999 the State Department was wary of neighboring Pakistan, where a little-known group called the Taliban was on the rise and a billionaire bomber on the run. By 2001, things had cooled. The State Department rubber-stamped another jazz junket, this time through the Middle East-first stop: Palestine. Baum played the Bermuda Jazz Festival on Sept. 10. The next morning, the airport on the island’s north side shut down. With bags packed she watched the news and, finally, Jamie Baum was still.

“It was horrible,” says Baum. “My husband was in New York. We couldn’t reach each other. All I could do was sit inside and watch TV like the rest of the world.”

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