Gyakuten Saiban Jazz Album ~Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul~
The Gyakuten Saiban Jazz Album ~Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul~ is the second arranged album dedicated to the popular Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney in the U.S.) series. The first, an orchestral disc, failed to capture my attention. It was a decent enough light-hearted album, but the arrangements did not feel inspired, and the orchestra sounded too precious, too sentimental, and I let it go as a disappointment. When they announced this jazz album, I wondered how well Mr. Iwadare would fare arranging for jazz band, and worried that this album would disappoint as the orchestral collection did. No such luck. In typical turnaround fashion, Gyakuten Saiban's second arranged effort brings the goods this time.
One of my biggest issues about the orchestral album was the decision to present a suite of the tracks from the courtroom sequences from each of the three games. Since the trial music was so similar in the games, it did not make sense to me to present three very similar tracks on the same single disc arrangement. This album also presents three courtroom tracks, however the Metropolitan Jazz Band manage to avoid making the tracks sound too much the same, in spite of the material.
"Gyakuten Saiban ~ Blues Note Scale Trial" is my favourite of the three trial tracks, and one of my favourite tracks on the album. The interplay between the melody and the bass in the opening segments provides a nice sound, and the use of the game's testimony music as the accompaniment for some of the later improvisations in the track is a sly move that allows the band both to introduce the new theme, and to add some variation to the harmony in the middle of their improvisation without having to abandon the momentum they've established.
I'm not terribly fond of the second Blues Note Scale Trial. The piece spends too little time with the melodies from the actual game, instead opting to focus on improvisation. Unfortunately, the harmonies for this track are quite dull, and the improvisations above them are equally bland. The third of these Blues Note Scale Trial tracks is quite good. Improvisation trades off with the actual melody from the game, which is a welcome surprise when compared to the album's typical Melody - Few Solos - Melody reprise form. The harmonies here are more interesting, and my one complaint with the track is a half-hearted drum solo about three-quarters through the piece.
The courtroom music also gets a visit from the popular "Ryuichi Naruhodo ~ Objection!" track. Here, melody and improvisation trade off again, and the arrangement is strengthened by one of the album's best bass lines. Not only that, but this arrangement does a great job of treating each statement of the objection theme in a new way. One of the most effective is the reprise of the theme at 3:20, which accompanies the saxophones with the melody by a sparse piano part, and gentle cymbal work by the drummer.
One of the most surprising arrangements of the album is "Oo-edo Soldier Tonosaman". I was originally very disappointed in hearing the bombastic, catchy theme of the Steel Samurai taken to a reflective tempo, but this arrangement works quite well. The result is a very sensitive and effective ballad. The other major ballad on the album is "Godot ~ The Aroma of Black Coffee", and the performance is gorgeous. The harmonies are fantastic, the performances are sensitive, the melody is good as ever, and the improvisations do a wonderful job of adding new material to the music, while keeping the original melody in mind. A passage in which the bass is given the melody is particularly noteworthy.
"Swingin' Zenitora" is another stand-out track, perhaps the most energetic on the album. Since there is a built in dynamic contrast between the beginning and ending segments of the main melody, this is expressed throughout the piece, and makes it one of the most interesting listens on the album to see how the different improvisers construct their solos to work effectively within the dynamic contrasts to make the strongest statement possible.
"Reiji Mitsurugi ~ Great Revival" is one of few tracks on the album that disappointed me. It is a decent track, pleasant melody making, and reasonable improvisation, but compared to the fairly epic original track, this rendition feels somewhat flimsy. Only "Yomigaeru Gyakuten ~ End" is the only other track that disappointed, and I feel its main error was, much like that of the second Blue Note Scale Trial tracks, choosing a track too dull to merit extended improvisation.
The last track on the album is also the only representation from the fourth Gyakuten Saiban game (Apollo Justice in the US) and it is a good one. "Minuki's Theme ~ The Young Sorceress" is a catchy track and manages to pull off the smoother side of jazz without totally neutering the style like a certain long haired American artist. It is a really nice feel good track to end the album on a positive note.
Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised with this arranged album. It is not a masterpiece, and it does not tell you any more about jazz than you probably knew going into the album. Still, the arrangements are energetic, and considering all of my exposure to video game improvisation to this point has been from Motoi Sakuraba, it's nice to see more compact, directed, and in a word competent improvisation in the video game canon. The Metropolis Jazz Band puts in a good effort, in keeping their small ensemble sounding fresh, and Noriyuki Iwadare has given them a solid batch of arrangements to perform over. This is a fun album to listen to.
Akemi Kimura (4, 5, 9)
Noriyuki Iwadare (6, 7, 8)
Hideki Okugawa (10)
Arranged by Noriyuki Iwadare
Tracks 1, 2, 3: from Gyakuten Saiban
Tracks 4, 5: from Gyakuten Saiban 2
Tracks 6, 7, 8: from Gyakuten Saiban 3
Track 9: from Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten
Track 10: from Gyakuten Saiban 4
PLAYERS: Metamorphosis Jazz Band
Alto Saxophone: Shawna Yang
Tenor Saxophone: Hank Pan
Piano: Kaoru Uno
Bass: Michelle Wu
Drums: Brandy Wu
Trumpet: Danny Deysher
Trombone: Frank Tsai, Norman Teng
Producer: Minea Matsukawa (Capcom), Hiroshi "ROZE" Horiguchi (Two Five)
Player Coordinator: Toshi, Seigai
Executive Producer: Hirofumi Nakamura (Capcom)
Producer: Mareo Yamada (Capcom)
A & R: Hidenori Shinohara (Capcom)
Recording & Mixing Engineer: Atsushi Kobayashi
Mastering Engineer: Yuji Chinone
Mastering Studio: Sony Music Studio
Package Illustration: Tatsuro Iwamoto
Package Coordinator: Koji Kinuwaki (Sony Music Communications)
Package Designer: Akira Kasa (Brahman)
Promotion: Takayoshi Terada (Capcom)
Special Thanks: Shu Takumi (Capcom), Toshihiko Horiyama (Capcom), Mitsuru Endo (Capcom), Takeshi Yamazaki (Capcom), Gyakuten Saiban Research & Development Staff, All Capcom Staff
Gyakuten Saiban ~Blue Notes and Scales in the Trial
Ryuuichi Naruhodou ~Objection!
Oo-edo Soldier Tonosaman
Gyakuten Saiban 2 ~Blue Notes and Scales in the Trial
Reiji Mitsurugi ~Great Revival
Toranosuke Shibakuzou ~Swingin' Zenitora
Gyakuten Saiban 3 ~Blue Notes and Scales in the Trial
Godot ~The Fragrance of Dark-Colored Coffee
Revived Gyakuten and End
Minuki's Theme ~Child of Sorcery