theBABAorchestra, “144,” from Another Ride on the Elephant Slide
Bandleader Lauren Elizabeth Baba belongs to an emerging group of young composers making ambitious and wildly imaginative new music for large jazz ensembles. A 2017 ASCAP Young Composers Award winner, Baba is the primary creative force behind her namesake 17-piece ensemble, whose new album, Another Ride on the Elephant Slide, is a statement of marvelous depth and cinematic expanse. As a composer, Baba has a masterful way with texture, employing discordant harmonies and jagged rhythms with an almost tactile effect. The track “144” sets a striking and varied scene, layering craggy trumpet, satiny trombone, and barbed electric guitar to achieve cumulative intensity. Though the spirit of this music tends toward the avant-garde, Baba has designed it so that the contours of melody and the pulse of swing are readily perceptible through the swirl.