Randy Hoexter was kind enough to sit down and field some questions for us! Below is my review of this wonderful release!
How in the world did this project come together? To take a tune that others may consider a one hit wonder and then do a sonic exploratory and re-harmonize the melodies, patch em up then have a first call band convey the freshness of the arrangements is staggering. What made it work? what would you like the listener to take away with them from the release?
R.H. "As a musician, I have always had a couple goals: to explore and grow, and to entertain. I don't mean "entertain" in the Vegas sense, but with the intent of making the music an enjoyable and fun experience. It always seemed that doing a "standards" recording was one way that a performer/arranger could engage the audience with something familiar and yet also explore new sounds. Needless to say almost every jazz artist has done something like this.
I also thought that, with all due respect, that another version of "All the Things You Are" would not really do much in the way of breaking new ground. This is mostly my"novelty-seeking" personality at work rather than any kind of value judgement; I love to play the standard jazz repertoire and find it just as challenging as ever. But I also love the idea of familiar things in an unfamiliar setting. Somehow this is more interesting than a "blank slate." I'm sure this is the same idea as classical composers using folk melodies in their pieces.
The musical intent was to take these songs and see how far we could go while keeping the fundamental form and melody intact. Some are harder to recognize than others, and that's okay with me. The goal is for the listener to enjoy the sound for what it is, and then say "wait… I know that one!" With only a couple exceptions, they are still even in the original keys."
As an instrumentalist you seem rather lyrically driven while having this uncanny ability to shift meter/harmonics on the fly - does this come from being such a proficient arranger?
R.H. "When writing these arrangements, I was trying, in most cases, to solo over the song form, which I see as the essence of jazz improvisation. While there are many tunes in the literature that have a separate "blowing" section that is more harmonically static, I wanted to avoid using this as a crutch in order to avoid difficult chord changes and meters. I really just wrote the changes and meters to sound good, and then let the chips fall where they may when it came time to solo. The bottom line is that we all had to practice a lot to become comfortable with some of these tunes! If it sounds lyrical, that is a big compliment, since I tend to overplay when I'm not confident."
Who as musicians on any level do you admire or draw a great deal of inspiration from?
R.H. "I have always found the most inspiration from the modern jazz performers who take a composer's view of the music. Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Yellowjackets are examples of this approach. I love the work of Gil Evans and Vince Mendoza, Bob Mintzer and other arrangers who try to push the limits of the harmony and rhythm, while still keeping things accessible. It seems to me that modern jazz is an area where people are still experimenting with color and rhythm without getting so atonal that the emotional engagement is lost. I also love to listen to Latin music; like many writers of my generation, Jobim's music and other Brazilian jazz was a huge influence.
As a pianist, I have always looked for a transparency and clarity of touch; Bill Evans is still probably my all-time favorite from that standpoint. I really admire Russell Ferrante, Lyle Mays, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock. I also like to listen to R&B players like Billy Preston and modern rock players like Bruce Hornsby."