(2019 - Thirsty Owl Records - USA)
With an unusually sparse and singular piano, followed by similar fashioned flutes, the intro to 'Marigold' begins what is surely a four suite cargo load of fellowship between orchestral complexity, fraught with independence, daring peculiarity, high emotion, wistful inventive, and fully engaged musicianship. Crawling with RIO elements, especially Univers Zero and their roots of classical composers such as Bartok, Dvorak, and Stravinsky, Baba displays many of the same influences from her debut 'Another Ride on the Elephant Slide' (2017), which at this point, has become a status and style of her own.
Using an adept 17 piece outfit, Lauren Elizabeth Baba conducts and leads her own compositions with incredible results. This experimental big band treads where ensembles like Flat Earth Society (Belgium), Carla Bley, and Hermeto Pascoal challenge, with a list of more too long to list. 'Marigold' is inspired by Baba's family immigration from Syria and Greece. The four compositions, are actually a "loop with no beginning or end" representing all the characteristics of life, "understanding that the past, present, and future are simultaneous experiences".
This musician, composer, conductor, bandleader, has an already fine resume as a guest conductor, award winner, guest violinist/violist (on various projects including her Seattle friend and creative big band composer-trumpet player Samantha Boshnack's release ' Seismic Belt', and the illusive progressive alt band Fell Runner's 'Talking'). With her second release, this continual four part composition of just under 42 minutes, does all the things that made her debut so fantastic, and stretches out even more. The avant-garde aspects give Henry Cow lovers a rush, the jazz fusion is out of this world, and the rock impact keeps the floor vibrating, along with a the wild roller coaster ride which is a thrill you will not believe. The outcome is overflowing and with very few moments of respite, the listener receives what almost feels like a succession of encores. In the same time span you are being lulled into a tepid labyrinth of mystery, one is also suspended in the canopy of brilliant fifth dimension. UNCONDITIONAL RECOMMENDATION.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 11 - 9 - 2019