A Change for the Better

Greg Gisbert and Ron Miles, trumpet and flugelhorn; John Gunther, alto sax, soprano sax, flute, didgeridoo; Peter Sommer, tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax and bass clarinet; Alex Heitlinger, trombone; Mike Abbott, guitar; Jeff Jenkins, piano; Mark Simon, bass; Paul Romaine, drums; Manavihare “Mimy” Fiaindratovo, percussion

Once the warble of the electric guitar melts seamlessly into the tinkling piano, you know this isn’t your typical jazz album. Add to this a cabaça grooving with some delicate ride cymbal work and you begin to sense where all of this is going. Sure enough, the horns fall exactly into place, but then everything changes when the piano breaks into a hoppin’ montuno. To composer Chie Imaizumi, it’s “A Change for the Better,” the opening track to her debut CD Unfailing Kindness. Played with such unabashed joy, it’s no wonder the musicians gathered to record the seven songs on the disc dubbed Imaizumi’s style “happy hardcore.” Works for me.

—RN