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Music Review: Randy Hoexter Group – Fromage

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There are good ideas, there are unique ideas, and then there are just ideas. This brings us to the Randy Hoexter group and the idea behind their new album.

To quote Randy Hoexter: “I did lots of research on surveys of the worst songs of all time, and certain titles kept popping up. These songs are part of the culture, especially for people my age. The goal here is not to make fun of these songs, but to take them seriously and do our best to make some modern art.”

Hoexter and his group’s sound veers toward a jazzy swing-type style. In addition to the basic guitar, bass, and drums, he uses a small five-piece brass section to drive and fill in the sound, which allows him to improvise on his piano. His debut album, Radiant, was inspired by The River, Herbie Hancock’s tribute to Joni Mitchell.

He uses the melodies and then builds new themes and ideas into the music. It all adds up to something familiar and something a little different within a light jazz setting. It is an easy listen and perfect background music.

So, what are some of the worst songs of all time and what did the Randy Hoexter Group do with them?

The old Debbie Boone hit, “You Light Up My Life,” would make a lot of worst lists. Hoexter turns down the sentimental side of the song and moves it over into a drum-laden asymmetrical groove. It emerges more upbeat than its original waltz structure.

The Ohio Express had a big bubblegum hit with “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” back in 1968. Now the sound is smoothed out with a bossa nova beat, complete with lush harmonies and a wistful sax floating above the mix. Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey” was one of the most maudlin songs of all time. Hoexter juices it up with repetitive piano rhythms.

And so it goes with such songs as “Muskrat Love,” “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” “Seasons In The Sun,” “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero,” and even Pachelbel’s “Canon.”

The Randy Hoexter Group is traveling its own journey. Their sound is one that lulls rather than energizes. Fromage is perfect for the fireplace and a glass of wine. You may even come to appreciate a few of the songs in these new interpretations.

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