Daniel Freedman’s new album Imagine That is a feel-good album full of slow building tunes and fun jams. The quintet here certainly has the chops and the ability to play fast runs, hyper-syncopated beats, or complex rhythms, but Imagine That is very much a group affair. Even when one musician is soloing, it rarely feels like someone is taking a solo, as the whole band is moving as one unit to support the song. The tunes here are for the most part not built on a straightforward head-solo-solo-head format, but instead often feature a slow, steady build to a climax toward the end of the song.
The band here is Freedman on drums, Gilmar Gomes on percussion, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Jason Lindner on keyboards, and Omer Avital on bass. They open strong out of the gate with “Determined Soul”, an upbeat tune riding a bouncy groove from Freedman and Gomes. While there is a catchy composition here (try listening to this and not having it in your head later that day), the tune, like much of the rest of the album, plays like a fun jam among friends, to the point that the high level of musicianship can almost be overlooked. The transition from Loueke’s guitar solo to Lindner’s keyboard solo is great, however, with Lindner grabbing the final phrase from Loueke and building his solo around it:
Elsewhere on Imagine That, Freedman’s band adds Angelique Kidjo on guest vocals (along with Loueke on both guitar and vocals) for “Baby Aya”, including an excellent vocal/percussion outro. Jason Lindner’s “Love Takes Time” is a great, lyrical tune with a melody that almost sounds like it could have been penned by Stevie Wonder and excellent solos from Avital, Lindner, and Loueke. “Codex” is an uncommon Radiohead cover and features Loueke’s guitar rocking out in full power-ballad mode. The album closer, “The Sister’s Dance”, is another strong groove to close the album on an upbeat note.
Imagine That is an excellent follow-up to Freedman’s Bamako by Bus album. It’s good mood music in that it pairs nicely with a good mood and sunny day, and in that it’s difficult to ignore the good vibe among the musicians here.