The renaissance of nice organized albums from Sq. Enix has been fairly the boon for followers like myself. If there may be anybody franchise that has benefited most, no less than to date, it needs to be the SaGa collection. Up to now decade, there have been half a dozen rock albums, almost as many orchestra albums, the latest SaGa Frontier Acoustic Preparations disc, and now a devoted jazz album. I really feel seen, heard, and grateful.
Sq. Enix Jazz -SaGa- is the fourth album within the Sq. Enix Jazz collection, one that’s prone to maintain going for a while. (Its fifth entry was not too long ago launched and featured Chrono Set off.) The leads on the Sq. Enix Jazz albums are a duo: trombonist Eijiro Nakagawa and bassist Ryu Kawamura. Every has a formidable oeuvre with association and efficiency credit going again many years, and never completely with Sq. Enix. Nakagawa proves himself on this album as each a stellar arranger and a gifted trombone soloist. Kawamura holds again a bit, although there are nonetheless some nice bass licks all through this album.
In terms of these all-series organize albums, observe choice and illustration of each main sport within the collection is essential to me. And throughout these twelve tracks, the duo managed it! Properly, with one exception, and one whose musical model would’ve been nice for these jazz preparations: Ultimate Fantasy Legend III. Nonetheless, to see the Romancing SaGa trio, the SaGa Frontier duo, the primary two Recreation Boy titles, the underdog UNLIMITED SaGa, the newcomer SaGa Scarlet Grace, and even the 2 ongoing on-line titles Imperial SaGa and Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe getting consideration? It’s a dream come true!
Earlier than I am going any additional, I’ve to level out that the jazz fusion model introduced by this workforce is really intense. The preparations themselves take dangers. Proper from the beginning, the usually spirited and major-key “Principal Theme” from The Ultimate Fantasy Legend will get reharmonized within the bass with a Phrygian mode stroll up and down that sounds extra like a sundown showdown than a triumphant theme. The melodic traces get syncopated as properly, and sped up considerably, including quite a lot of rigidity. This highly effective assertion signifies what’s to unfold on this album.
Loads of nice battle themes present up, a few of which have been under-represented in different organize albums. “Wrestle to the Loss of life,” the boss battle music from Ultimate Fantasy Legend II, reveals up and will get some completely improbable association. The particular call-outs, the drops and returns by the band, the intricate charts and closely improvised solos — all of it provides as much as one thing higher than the sum of its elements, and undoubtedly one thing that I couldn’t have imagined based mostly on the supply composition alone.
Talking of “Alone,” the ever-popular location/dungeon theme from SaGa Frontier seems as one of many softest, easiest tracks right here. This observe could also be the place the album takes the fewest dangers, and admittedly, I’m glad about that. It has the trimmings of a “easy jazz” type of piece, and the workforce ran with it. The result’s undoubtedly nice.
I truthfully like and “agree with” just about each tune chosen. Kawamura and Nakagawa did a improbable job. I do wish to level to Romancing SaGa 2‘s “The Final Confrontation” as one other private favourite. Arranger and bassist Kawamura retains this intense drag-triplet run going by the piece, typically accompanied by the piano, bringing a type of depth I wasn’t ever anticipating. This piece can also be the place pianist Takana Miyamoto will get to shine with some beautiful fills.
Although, I’ll say my chief disappointment with this album is a normal lack of piano prominence. Sure, it’s all the time there, however there have been missed alternatives for melody-carrying and improvisation all through the album. I do maintain a bias as a pianist myself, however it’s not simply that. It’s additionally that there are tracks from SaGa Frontier 2 and UNLIMITED SaGa, each composed by Masashi Hamauzu, whose compositions are likely to lean closely on the piano. The “Limitless SaGa Overture” merely wanted extra highlight on the piano than it received.
That grievance apart, this Sq. Enix Jazz crew has one thing particular going. It may be arduous to promote individuals on jazz, particularly unique compositions. That’s why I feel these organize albums have a bonus: everyone knows the supply materials, and these preparations make one thing extra, one thing completely different, and most significantly one thing enjoyable out of the music we already love. I’m glad to have it in my assortment, and I’d encourage you to think about including it to yours.