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Album review: 'Happy Fire — New Kind of Jazz' 

Hiro Honshuku's Racha Fora

"Happy Fire — New Kind of Jazz"


The jazz world is rich in albums filled with standards. There are literally thousands of interpretations of tunes like Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are" and George Gershwin's "Summertime." But it's a safe bet you've never heard them played the way Hiro Honshuku's Racha Fora plays them. Honshuku is a wonderfully wild Japanese flute master and his latest band engages in a highly unusual form of jazz fusion. The music's punk-like exuberance easily matches the first part of the album's title, "Happy Fire," and it's tough to argue with the second part: "New Kind Of Jazz."

Part of the chemistry is the unusual instrumentation, featuring energetic violinist Rika Ikeda, inventive guitarist Andre Vasconcelos, and Harvey Wirht and Sebastian "C-bass" Chiriboga, who alternate on cajon. But the main ingredient here is the dynamic reimagining of tunes like Miles Davis' "Nardis," Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," and Frank Churchill's "Someday My Prince Will Come." If you want your standards to be not quite so standard, "Happy Fire" is a great way to shake them up.

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