AMONG THE many good things that can be said for jazz flutist Jamie Baum's new album, "Undercurrents," is that you won't come away from it humming all the melodies. Not unless you're one helluva of whistler to begin with.
Baum, after all, isn't the least bit interested in floating simple themes over simple rhythms. On the contrary, her arrangements tend to be so interactive and contrapuntal that anyone who thinks "jazz flute" is an oxymoron is in for a rude but instructive awakening. The title (and opening) cut, for example, derives both its name and its appeal from the shifting undercurrents of rhythms and harmonies that shape and inspire the playing of Baum and guitarist Vic Juris. The probing nature of that piece soon gives way to New Orleans parade beat of "Don't Gimme That Line," with drummer Jeff Hirschfield's shuffling "second line" syncopation underpinning Juris's spikey blues permutations and the tart, intuitive teamwork of Baum and trumpeter Randy Brecker.
"In Love in Vain" demonstrates the lyrical charm of Baum's phrasing, just as surely as "Blue Shoes" and "Suite As You Are" demonstrates her agility as an improviser. But what really sets the album apart is Baum's imaginative writing and arranging -- in short, the smarts with which she deploys Juris, Brecker, Hirshfield, bassist Jay Anderson, keyboardist Salvatore Bonafede and her own flute.
JAMIE BAUM -- "Undercurrents" (Konnex). Appearing Friday and Saturday at Twins. To hear a Sound Bite from this album, call 202/334-9000 and press 8123.