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Daniel Freedman: Imagine That

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If Imagine That often feels like truly international music, just peruse its personnel: Drummer/leader Daniel Freedman and keyboardist Jason Lindner are New Yorkers, but they are joined by Africans (guitarist Lionel Loueke and guest vocalist Angélique Kidjo, both from Benin), an Israeli (bassist Omer Avital) and a Brazilian (percussionist Gilmar Gomes). Despite the players’ passports, the rhythms drawn up don’t clash but rather find commonalities. Most of these musicians have worked together in some capacity before, and what might seem disparate on paper becomes the town square in their hands.

“Determined Soul,” Lindner’s opener, is dance-floor-ready; Loueke, Lindner and the rhythm section find the funk zone early on and stay in it. “Baby Aya,” written by Freedman for his daughter as a sleep aid, eases in at a tentative pace, but by the time Loueke and Kidjo’s tandem vocals kick in, the kid is more apt to be jumping in her crib with delight.

Among the no-frills ballads, Lindner’s “Love Takes Time,” a blues, is the most purely Western entry here-and a fine showcase for Avital-even more so than the ambitious workup of Radiohead’s “Codex,” which glides along steadily and tenderly; Freedman’s had enough of that after a while, decides to drive it home and before you know it you’re in early Pink Floyd space-cadet territory. “Eastern Elegy” and “The Sisters Dance,” the Freedman compositions that close the disc, are more to the point, rhythmic hybrids embedded with all manner of jolts and revelations.

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