Chie Imaizumi: A Time of New Beginnings (2010)
Two coasts and the Mile High Citytherein lies the talent pool from which composer and arranger Chie Imaizumi selected her team. Soloists and leaders themselves, they form the orchestra for A Time of New Beginnings.
Imaizumi scored DownBeat Magazine's Rising Star Composer honor for her 2007 debut, Unfailing Kindness (Capri Records). That same year, she achieved the Rocky Mountain Jazz Artist of the Year award. Her career started at age four, when she played electric organ in her native home of Saitama, Japan. The ensemble for A Time for New Beginnings is composed of East Coast, West Coast and Denver-area musicians, including bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and pianist Tamir Hendelman.
"My Heartfelt Gratitude" begins softly with the piano. Slowly, Steve Wilson's soprano sax enters, along with the bass and drums. The mood brightens and the level picks up, leading to the Clayton's solo on bass. When the rest of the orchestra comes in, the horns take the lead, while Hamilton stretches out on the kit.
Randy Brecker sits in on the aptly titled "Information Overload." Mike Abbott takes point during the tranquil beginning. The horns threaten to exceed aural parameters when the song shifts. Brecker solos over bass, drums and piano, making his instrument flare up at all the right moments. During the middle break, the song downshifts, with Hendelman on point. Then, as it appears the passage is over, it reverts to the frantic, near chaotic attitude of Brecker and the other horns.
"Changing old patterns isn't easy, but you gotta move forward and keep growing," is Imaizumi's take on the title song. Like a transition from the darkness of night to the warmth of day, the layered horns bring to mind the image of a large city waking up. The shift from all-out energy to the subtleties of the soprano sax and the guitar represents an individual's meeting the challenges and adventures of a new day. As if to emphasis the unpredictability of the day, the song changes moods several times. During a comfortably long middle break, Hamilton gives the kit a workout, particularly the toms.
A Time of New Beginnings is unusual in that the artist is neither a vocalist nor an instrumentalist. Instead, Imaizumi steps back and lets the orchestra perform the music that her imagination created. The result is a set that captures many moodssometimes several within a songthat, although independent, fit like pieces to a puzzle.
Track Listing: My Heartfelt Gratitude; Information Overload; Fear of the Unknown; A Time of New Beginnings; Run for Your Life; Today; Sharing the Freedom; Many Happy Days Ahead; Fun & Stupid Song.
Personnel: Chie Imaizumi: composer and arranger; Randy Brecker: trumpet (2); Greg Gisbert: trumpet and flugelhorn; Terrell Stafford: trumpet and flugelhorn; Steve Wilson: alto sax, soprano sax and flute; Scott Robinson: tenor sax, soprano sax, sopranino sax, clarinet and flute; Steve Davis: trombone; Gary Smulyan: baritone sax and bass clarinet; Mike Abbott: guitar; Tamir Hendelman: piano; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums (1, 3-6, 8, 9); Paul Romaine: drums (2, 7, 9).