ReMix: Metroid "Cazador de Recompensas"
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Newcomer John Stacy & his eponymous JohnStacy Orchestra take us on a tour of Zebes by way of a downtown Havana jazz club, where you can almost smell the cigar smoke being pushed away by a powerful brass section and a dynamic, creative, & very immediate arrangement:
"The JohnStacy Orchestra is a studio big band dedicated to recording big band arrangements of video game music. This is a multitrack recording of the title themes from Metroid 1 and 2, inspired by Stan Kenton and his Cuban Fire! album. I was preparing to arrange an album, and had the idea to do the title theme from Metroid as an Afro-Cuban groove, and the quasi-swing section in the middle just seemed to fit that section of the music. The title theme from Metroid 2, or at least a fragment of it, made a good concluding theme, using a duple feel against the triple feel. The track is one of several tracks on the multitrack album, all arrangements of classic video game tunes in various jazz styles."
"Cazador de Recompensas" ("Bounty Hunter")
The JohnStacy Orchestra:
- CJ Carter - Saxophone
- Edward Cosio - Saxophone
- John Stacy - Trumpet, French Horn, Bass
- Jacob Rives - Trombone, Bass Trombone
- Bruno Gutierrez - Tuba
- Ben Hilton - Drums
- Misael Tambuwum - Piano
The piece is nicely bookended by a lonely, distant piano incarnation of the Metroid title theme, but the meat of the piece is defined by an expansive brass section that harmonizes superbly & a recording aesthetic that drips with authenticity. There are many ways to "do" jazz, and this is an approach that we haven't really seen before & which works quite well with the source. NutS chimes in:
"Excellent jazz remix of this song... Arrangement wise this was pretty great, a lot was done with the source, and in some places it feels like it's on the brink of going too far off (like around 2:50) but you guys know when to reel it in back to the source again. The last section at around 3:50 with the double-timing of the source really caught me off-guard, but I felt it works and flowed into it very well. This is an easy pass for me, nice work guys."
When the full section is playing, it's a thing of beauty, and you can make out each instrument while still appreciating the warm resonance of the aggregate sound. I also like some of the less intuitive arrangement decisions, making this feel more narrative & spontaneous than perhaps a traditional jazz treatment would. The transition from ensemble into extended solo section and back again gives things a nice arc, the Latin elements of the rhythm section make it more interesting & essential (though I'd have loved a volume bump & a bit more clarity), and the overall presentation and execution really deliver on the potential of the concept. Great debut from the JSO, making a strong statement & capitalizing on the power of an extended brass arsenal to deliver a memorable jazz exploration of some classic Metroid themes!