An album of covers in smooth or contemporary jazz has the potential for boredom. But when the arrangements are distinct and the songs aren’t your typical remakes, the results can be fun and exciting. So enters the Randy Hoexter Group with Fromage (Rhombic Records, 2012).

For one thing, pianist Hoexter took on some “cheesy” pop songs, a challenge within itself. And what he and his supporting cast do with this cheese is deliciously nutritious. Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, guitarist Trey Wright, saxophonist Sam Skelton, trombonist Eric Alexander and percussionists Kit Chatham (congas, djembe and cajon) and Eric Sanders (triangle and shaker) are part of the ensemble. Drum duties are split by Tom Knight and Dave Weckl. Mike Barry and Gordon Vernick split the load on trumpet. And vocalist Angie Driscoll appears on two tracks.

Driscoll sings the chorus on the highly energetic adaptation of the sappy Debby Boone hit, “You Light Up My Life.” Instead of a sugary, romantic ballad, this arrangement is heavy on percussion, with a little soulful sass thrown in, aided by Skelton’s soprano sax solo.

“Muskrat Love” is injected with a Latin vibe, perhaps a cheesy salsa dip. The horn section carries the melody with strong support from Haslip and Weckl.

Hoexter and friends employ a variety of jazz approaches to these songs, many of which placed their respective recording artists into the class of one-hit wonders. Among them were Boone, Terry Jacks (“Seasons in the Sun”) and Rupert Holmes (“Escape – The Pina Colada Song”). Inspired by The River, Herbie Hancock’s tribute to Joni Mitchell, Hoexter interviewed fellow musicians and did some research. Among his sources are humorist Dave Barry’s 1997 Book of Bad Songs, an article by James Sullivan under the heading, “The enduring appeal of an abominable pop song,” and worst-songs surveys.

Not that the tracks here were bad songs. But many of them had nonsensical lyrics, or their dark lyrics contradicted the sappy, happy sounds. And some had neither of these flaws, yet still were cheesy, like Cher’s “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” and The Captain and Tennille’s “Muskrat Love.”