Monster Hunter The Jazz
Monster Hunter The Jazz
September 16, 2015
Buy at CDJapan
Earlier this year, Zac Zinger, former performer in the Video Game Orchestra, was responsible for a jazz album dedicated to the music to Okami. He returns once more to cover the music of Monster Hunter. Unlike his previous album with Capcom dedicated to the series, Monster Hunter Swing ~Big Band Jazz Arrange~, which focused more on swing, Monster Hunter The Jazz features a more well-rounded jazz experience. How does the overall album turn out?
The album opens with “Awakening” from the original Monster Hunter. Done in a contemporary jazz style, this interpretation fits quite well with the original. The focus on the melody is soft and smooth, thanks in part to Zinger’s saxophone performance, which is the star of this particular arrangement. It’s an excellent start to the album and one that is quite relaxing. A highlight of the album is a jazzy blues arrangement of “A Day on Pokke Farm.” Despite the style, it’s a bright and fun track with some wonderful piano chords and solos and some excellent saxophone improvisation. One of the weaker tracks, in my opinion, is “Red Afterglow Running in the Darkness / Nargacuga,” which is one of the various monster themes in the series. Done in a fusion jazz style, it captures the jazz essence quite nicely, but I feel that this particular interpretation isn’t the most successful. A lot of the power of the original is lost, but may have been better suited for a different arrangement, or a more transformative one. It’s still an enjoyable listen, but not one I go back to as often as some of the others on the album.
“Our Felyne Farm in Yukumo” is a warm jazz arrangement, taking influence from gospel music. The melody itself is quite beautiful and the combination of saxophone with gospel organ makes for a soothing listen. Another highlight of the album is “Remote Hot Spring Where Hunters Gather,” done in a straight ahead jazz style that would work well at a jazz bar, given its lounge vibe. Of particular note is the incorporation of shakuhachi, giving the arrangement a distinct Japanese flair while also simulating a more typical jazz woodwind instrument, the flute. “Song of One,” done with a sax quartet arrangement, isn’t the jazziest sounding track on the album, but still manages to provide a decent listen. It’s a much more reflective arrangement and serves as a nice midway point of the album. Another straight ahead jazz arrangement on the album is Monster Hunter 4’s “Wind of Departure.” There are some excellent jazzy piano runs that really help bring the arrangement to life while the saxophone helps deliver the core melody.
“Riding on the Sea Breeze ~ Cheeko Sands,” done in a pop-jazz fusion, style is another track, that while might be more enjoyable to others, isn’t my cup of tea in terms of jazz style. That said, there are pop inspired drum hits, soft keyboard tones, and a very bright and upbeat saxophone. The elements are all there for a successful tune, however, for those who enjoy more pop inspired jazz tunes might feel right at home with this one. Another favorite of mine is “A Village Swaying in the Wind ~ Cathar,” that, to me, gives off a rustic, yet lounge jazz, vibe. Featuring violin from Tomoko Akaboshi, it’s a very beautiful arrangement, with some beautiful piano accompaniment and solos and saxophone. The true star of the arrangement is the violin though, as it helps bring a sense of warmth to the album and helps give it a unique touch compared to the more straightforward jazz styles found throughout the album. Lastly, the album ends with the iconic theme, “Proof of a Hero,” from the original Monster Hunter, done in a New Orleans style. Opening with a second line feel, it manages to set the tone for the rest of the arrangement, with its slick bass runs, piano runs, and its bright saxophone lead and improvisations. It closes out the album quite nicely.
In the end, I would say that Monster Hunter The Jazz is a fairly successful jazz album featuring a variety of jazz styles, almost all of which are enjoyable on the album. While there are some tunes that don’t particularly fit either the overall jazz theme of the album or a particular source material, the result is still an album worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of jazz and Monster Hunter music.
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Posted on October 19, 2015 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on October 26, 2015.