Chie Imaizumi – Unfailing Kindness – Capri

by | Feb 14, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Chie Imaizumi – Unfailing Kindness – Capri 74081-2,  56:06 ****1/2:

It is always with great excitement that a jazz CD reviewer discovers a new voice, a revelation, and a star in the making. You can imagine walking by their CD in the stacks, not giving it a second glance. They are unknown and in this busy world, who has time to pick up every new CD issue? But something draws you in. For Ms. Imaizumi, it was her roster of musicians. When your CD features heavyweight session men like trumpeters Greg Gisbert, and Ron Miles, as well as bari sax stalwart, Gary Smulyan, then maybe its time to pick up the CD and check it out. You know she has good taste in sidemen and they must not want to waste their skills on just any pick-up session. I felt that Chie with her young attractive photo on the cover must be the latest chanteuse to hit the scene. Was I wrong!

First off, you find out that she wrote and arranged all the tracks on the CD and leaves the other musicians to interpret her work. The one vocal on this issue is by Jeremy Ragsdale on the closing track, the soulful/R & B heartfelt Another Day. Your next discovery is that Unfailing Kindness swings hard and is full of catchy rhythms. It’s a small big band, never more than a tentet, but with a full big band roar. She indicates in the liner notes that her goal as a composer is “to bring happiness and joy to my listeners.” That she does in spades!

Born and raised in Japan, Chie won Yamaha Electone Competition for outstanding performance on electric organ. She enrolled at Berklee in the Fall of 2001 and was awarded the Herb Pomeroy award for jazz composition. Later meeting up with trumpeter Gisbert, who recognized her talent, he agreed to select the musicians, set up rehearsals, and hooked up gigs before the group entered the studio. The CD was cut in one day, which is shocking for the swing and vibrancy that will burst from your speakers. Credit goes to Gisbert for co-producing the session, and he has many of the trumpet solos with his power and range evident throughout the session. The bottom end provided by Smulyan on bari sax adds to the full range sound. Picking out favorite tracks is difficult as this CD had center stage in my car’s CD player for a solid week playing continuously as its seamless cohesion drew me in. Every errand in the car brought out new pleasures-such as the bright Latinesque swing of A Change for the Better with Smulyan’s punchy solo and Gisbert’s powerful trumpet blasts, as well as Manavihare Fiandravato’s percussion work.

Other winning tracks include The More the Merrier, with Jeff Jenkin’s bluesy piano and Alex Heitlinger’s spot-on trombone work; and the title track’s sweet soprano work of John Gunther, which along with the band’s backing gives this track an anthemic stride. Mike Abbot’s electric guitar on Lonely clearly has a Pat Metheny-like brightness and this track gives off an Oriental flavor which mixes nicely with Gisbert’s warm lyrical solo. Round and Round brings a fuller big band feeling out, as does Adversity. I can recommend Chie Imaizumi’s Unfailing Kindness without reservation and my hope is that Capri Records will give her many more opportunities to present her composing talent to the jazz world. They should also hire Gisbert as their new A & R director.

TrackList: A Change for the Better, The More The Merrier, Unfailing Kindness, Lonely, Round and Round, Adversity, Another Day.

– Jeff Krow

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