FAME Review: Randy Hoexter Group - Fromage
Randy Hoexter Group - Fromage


Randy Hoexter Group

Available from Randy Hoexter's web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Heh! There are many layers of irony in this disc. The very title, "Fromage" (cheese), is a language-switch rhetorical diversion away from a too easy giveaway to the CD's seeming intent, which at first appears to be to send-up classic cheezoid hit songs from a number of chartbusters now lumbering towards the tar pits. After all, Cher's (actually, Bob Stone's) Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves wasn't exactly a work of profound insight or meticulously architected melody-crafting but instead just a simplistic concoction designed to do as it did: make tons of money for everyone involved. So…prime fodder for japery? Sure, except Hoexter switched decks and instead created dazzling flights of pure musicianship that cohere Steely Dan, David Matthews, Buselli-Wallerab, a bit of Lalo Schifrin, and then touches of the fusioneers: Cassipoeia, Passport, Manhattan Transfer's instrumental side, etc.

I mean, I almost howled with laughter the second my eyes lit on Yummy, Yummy, Yummy and then had to choke back further hilarity as Hoexter teamed up Honey—perhaps, along with Dr. Hook's Sylvia's Mother, THE goopiest song in music history—with the trad Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), the import of which can be taken in a number of ways. Then I did laugh out loud as the track came on, a jumpy semi-abstract Don't Worry, Be Happy kinda re-tuning pregnant with cross indicators. Possessed of intelligence like that, you'd expect musical chops up the ying-yang…and get them in spades. Hoexter is very impressive as a pianist but also chose two fireball trumpet players, Mike Barry (not to be confused with Bernie Pearl's bass player) and Gordon Vernick, with complmentary horns in Sam Skelton (sax, clarinets, flute) and Eric Anderson (trombone). Jimmy Haslip (!) slips in on bass, Trey Wright on guitar, with a jumpin' groovin' drum backup in Tom Knight (Dave Weckl [!] on three cuts), percussion by Kit Chatham and Eric Sanders. All these guy keep the action tight and flowing while taking no end of complicated directions of their own.

Thus, Hoexter's a hoaxter, and this disc isn't what it at first seems but infinitely more. In fact, you more than once have to listen closely to discern the true source matrixing, as Randy wrote charts over, under, beside, and through them all. Billy, Don't be a Hero, for another instance, becomes a laconic etude rather than the anthemic weeper it was intended to be. I can't think of a single time this sort of thing has been done so extensively and so well (and I have well over 30,000 recordings in my collection, so I've a decent idea on such things) nor with such a welter of meanings and intent, all of which fit together perfectly. But, lastly… Pachelbel's Canon as a cheesy song? Even Zappa would appreciate the tongue-in-cheekery of the blasphemous imputation, laughing through that Groucho moustache of his at the cream in the jest…cream cheesecake, that is.

Track List:

  • Gypsys, Tramps, & Thieves (Bob Stone)
  • You Light Up my Life (Joe Brooks)
  • Delta Dawn (Collins / Harvey)
  • Muskrat Love (Willis Alan Ramsey)
  • Escape (The Pina Colada Song) (Rupert Holmes)
  • I've Never been to Me (Miller / Kirsch)
  • Season in the Sun (Brel / McKuen)
  • Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (Resnick / Levine)
  • Honey / Dies Irae (Russell / traditional)
  • Billy, Don't a Hero (Murray / Callender)
  • Canon (Pachelbel)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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