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Unfailing Kindness

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Album Review

Very few album titles reflect the tone and mood of their musical content as accurately as does the title of this, the debut album from 27-year-old composer and arranger Chie Imaizumi. Her melodies are relatively simple and unfailingly charming, and her arrangements are bright and energetic, with little to no avant-garde confrontationalism or even any ironic edge. You're anticipating the criticism, of course: that her music is too sweet, too naïve and simplistic. And yes, there are moments when that thought does come to mind; she does have a tendency to repeat melody lines too much, altering only the cadence at the end to differentiate them. But even when her melodies aren't quite interesting enough, the brilliance and the sheer exuberance of her arrangements redeem them handily. This is music written out of joy, and it clearly inspires similar feelings in the members of the big band that plays them here. The Latin romp "A Change for the Better" is among the best examples of Imaizumi's explosive good humor, but her approach to New Orleans funk on "The More the Merrier" is every bit as charming (and features some innovative horn writing), and the gospel-flavored song that ends the album is very fine as well. On the album's one ballad ("Lonely"), things start to bog down just a bit, but she quickly gets back into the groove with "Round and Round" and the more harmonically adventurous "Adversity." Highly recommended.

Unfailing Kindness, Chie Imaizumi
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