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Randy Hoexter Group: Fromage

So, what do you get when you redo some of the "worst songs of all time"? A pretty fine swinging jazz album. That is exactly the premise behind the Randy Hoexter Group's latest effort Fromage. As Randy says "the goal here is not to make fun of these songs, but to take them seriously and to do our best to make some modern art". The final result is a resounding success.

This is his second foray at leading a band. His first effort Radiant was released in 2001. With the aptly titled Fromage, the idea of remaking some of the most recognizable songs in popular music is an interesting one. The core band includes Hoexter (piano), Jimmy Haslip (bass), Trey Wright (guitar) and Tom Knight (drums). Also included is a five piece horn section pivotal to the band's sound.

Beginning with the, ahem, Bob Stone classic "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" made famous by Cher in 1971, a different take is spun with Hoexter's swinging jazz arrangement. The result is much more riveting, especially if you are a jazz fan.

Perhaps the best known song in this collection is "You Light Up My Life" made popular by Debbie Boone in 1977. I must admit for having a soft spot for the original version but I must say Hoexter's playful piano arrangement, outstanding horns and pulsating percussion gives the song less sentimentality and a much needed vitality.

Perhaps the 'cheesiest' original is the Willis Alan Ramsey penned "Muskrat Love", a song so steeped in tackiness it makes some of the other songs here seem like certifiable works of art. The cloying schmaltziness of the original version is completely nullified making room for Trey Wright's exceptionally clean guitar work and Haslip's sinuous bass lines. As with all of these songs Hoexter's piano and wonderful brass section is front and center.

Another highlight has to be Haslip's ripping bass interlude in "Escape". A fine player indeed.

One has to give Hoexter credit for taking these guilty pleasures and jazzifying them with new vitality and gusto. Now you can actually tell people you dig "Seasons in the Sun" and not feel embarrassed in the slightest.

Track Listing:
1. Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves (5:32)
2. You Light Up My Life (5:09)
3. Delta Dawn (6:43)
4. Muskrat Love (5:23)
5. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) (6:08)
6. I've Never Been to Me (5:03)
7. Seasons in the Sun (5:54)
8. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (5:04)
9. Honey/Dies Irae (6:09)
10. Billy, Don't Be a Hero (5:26)
11. Canon (5:43)

Added: September 9th 2012
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1762
Language: english

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