At first listen, theBABAorchestra works immediately to enlighten the percipient that LA Jazz is not all studio polish, R&B, and smooth. In fact there are many examples that disavow that notion, but [Lauren] Elizabeth Baba’s 17-Piece experimental big band is particularly visceral and thematic in its through-composed and improvised moments.
The conductor/composer/arranger of its namesake, [Lauren] Elizabeth Baba is a violinist, violist, and improviser living in Los Angeles specializing in performing and composing creative improvised music as well as jazz, classical, folk, avant-guarde, chamber, pop, and experimental styles.
Inspired by Baba’s family immigration story, hailing from Syria and Greece, she introduces us to Marigold- a piece that was commissioned by Los Angeles Jazz Society through a 2018 New Note Artist Award and premiered in concert at 2018 Angel City Jazz Festival at Ford Theater, Los Angeles, CA.
As her website informs, Marigold was recorded live in the studio – a 45-minute un-doctored real-time performance – presented as a long-form suite in 4 continuous movements; representing the nature of Marigold’s conception as “a loop – no beginning or end – exploring through-composition + improvisation and continuing the search to conceptualize time + music + existence – understanding that the past, present, and future are simultaneous experiences.”
This all being a direct reaction to Baba exploring her own family’s journey, and what it means to confront the bravery, heartache, ambition, and reinvention of the immigration experience. A story that carries parallels for many families in our diverse, multi-cultural nation, that offers a promise of fulfilling dreams for those arriving at its shores, but not always acknowledging the sacrifice that can weigh heavily on the elders who took on that expedition; either by choice or necessity.
An immersive listening experience is recommended on its own with Marigold. In the meantime, [Lauren] Elizabeth Baba speaks with OTSSFO about her research, creative exploration, and emotional mining that led to its result.
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part conversation with [Lauren] Elizabeth Baba. The first is our more recent discussion regarding 2019’s release of Marigold. While, Part 2 is comprised of an archived discussion pertaining to more of Baba’s creative and musical development, upbringing, and insights into theBABAorchestra’s 2017 release, Another Ride on the Elephant Slide. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.