ReMix:Ristar "Fiesta Amongst the Trees" 3:54

By Southwestern College Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble

Arranging the music of one song...

"Dancing Leaves (Round 1-2)"

Primary Game: Ristar (Sega , 1995, GEN), music by Masafumi Ogata, Naofumi Hataya, Tomoko Sasaki

Posted 2010-11-16, evaluated by the judges panel

Ristar! Hell yes! Furthermore, this unique arrangement from the SouthWestern College Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble (LQ YT) absolutely embraces the music & environment of the game. Submitter and band member Dustin Cubit, alias Strider Yoko, writes:

"We are all college students with the exception of Justin Grinnell who is the Professor / Band Director for the SouthWestern College Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble

Halfway through last semester we had only rehearsed 4 songs out of 8 for the end of the semester concert. We were in need of some tunes to play and Justin had asked me earlier if i had wrote anything playable for the class. I took up his request and started a basic preliminary arrangement of Dancing Leaves. When i first played this game back in the mid 90's this was one of the tunes that made the score stick out for me. I was a sucker for any jazz tunes in a game with a walking bass line. I've also been a video game arranger for 10 years so I always keep my ears open when im playing a game. Dancing Leaves I thought had a great melody to fit the Afro Cuban style of Jazz. The the arrangement I came up with was very basic. I wrote it all out in Finale which is a music notation program. I hit a few snags and I couldn't figure out the harmonic progression during the bridge. My preliminary arrangement also had a harmonized melody but it was scrapped due to our bands lack of a brass section. Justin did some amazing things with the arrangement and it became a total new one. He fixed the bridge and added some flavorful hits. Also my arrangement contained all of the original melody and by hearing the tune some of the melodic passages were well above our playing level. So he shot for accuracy over virtuosity. The Final Lead sheet ended up being 4 pages long! which is not what I'm used to seeing in non Big Band Jazz.

We performed the tune in concert and at toward the end of the semester we were told some disheartening news. Justin announced the the Afro-Cuban Ensemble was going to be cut next semester. The good news was that he wanted to plan a recording session and cut a cd using the band trust fund. He also wanted to use the CD as a presentation to the SWC Board of directors to show them what they were going to lose by cutting this class. On Dec 9 2009 we recorded Dancing Leaves and 7 other songs at Studio West Located in San Diego. It was a great first time experience for me and some of my fellow Band/Classmates."

First off, bravo to all of you - this is a fantastic arrangement, performance, and recording, and I'm very proud to be posting it on OCR. Secondly: Arrgh... my heart goes out to professors and students of the arts who are constantly victim to threats of budget cuts or outright cancellations that jeopardize innovation and expression where and when it is most crucial. Certainly, the Sword of Damocles hovers ominously above teachers in almost all disciplines, but the arts are almost always first on the chopping block. Here in the USA, childhood physical education and sports get a HUGE emphasis (both social and fiscal), and yet none of it seems to stick if you look at obesity and physical fitness statistics. It seems like countless studies, on the other hand, show that honing music skills can lead to some unexpected improvements in other academic areas like English and Math. If education were more results-oriented and less concerned with politics and money, I don't think music and the arts would be considered superfluous.

Alright, enough soapboxing. Shariq chimed in first on the decision thread:

"Man, I love this remix, though it maybe just be Ristar-bias on my part, seeing as how I played the crap out of this game when I was younger. One of the best Genesis soundtracks ever, bar none. This mix is a bit on the conservative side, but I think it does enough to expand the source theme in terms of part-writing to just get it over the bar. Rhythm guitars are especially nice with the comping chords and arpeggios, and the percussion has a lot more going on. Plus there are all these phrases where the entire ensemble locks together for a syncopated statement. Very nice."

Since Dustin provided the full roster for the track, let me copy that here as well:

  • Dustin Cubit aka Strider Yoko - guitar: Main Melody, Solo 2
  • Scott Inumerable - guitar: Rhythm for Melody, Solo 1
  • Marco Lopez - guitar: Rhythm for Melody
  • Ryota Machida - Rhythm for Melody and solo section
  • Nikko Nobleza - guitar: Main Melody
  • Jon Polansky - electric bass
  • Fernando Gomez - drums
  • Etienne Argoud - timbales
  • Soran Dalawi - percussion
  • Justin Grinnell - Band Director/Arranger

Guitar solos don't completely rock out, but do make for a nice understated, relaxed & loose feel, and the whole thing feels festive, mellow, and organic. It's getting darker earlier, and much colder, so it's nice to have tracks like this to mentally escape to the Carribean, if only for a few minutes. Great work from the whole crew, Justin and Dustin in particular (they should do a trio with Mustin just to have three "ustins" on a mix) - budgets and schedules may be ephemeral, but music like this lasts forever!



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2015-12-02 10:12:05

Definitely feeling the tropical laid-back atmosphere the guys tried to create here. And I love it! It takes me mentally somere to Brazil or Bahamas. I also want to dance a lot when I hear this tune. I even shake my body a bit. Whenever and wherever I hear it. Even in a bus :D Very sweet!

on 2012-05-03 09:23:02

Very tropical in a jazzy kind of way, nice. Funny thing is I just got finished with a class that went over Afro-Cuban music and this would have fit right in. It's got a good beat to get your toe tapping, and I could relax and lay back to this with a nice cold drink. Yeah, this is so good, I like it. Shame to hear about the cuts, though.

on 2010-12-29 11:41:12

Really classy stuff, can't add much beyond my vote, but this is really breezy and pleasant.

on 2010-12-29 10:25:37

Jazz like this around the holidays is soo yummy.

Martin Penwald
on 2010-12-01 13:09:54
Sounds like old-school OneUp Mushrooms. Good stuff.

This. In particular the Mario Kart album, which is probably why the remix in hand always makes me think of Super Mario Kart.

Relaxing and upbeat at the same time. Nice work, guys.

on 2010-11-20 11:14:36

Very nice and upbeat. The good first impression that lasted until the very end. I hope these guys make more stuff. A definite add to my ipod.

on 2010-11-20 09:42:34

Can't say I'm familiar with the source, but I love how this carribean styled song is done. The song doesn't seem to try to delve deep into rearranging from what I can tell by the relatively static arrangement, but it carries the flavor well and has enough subtleties to carry it through.

on 2010-11-19 11:32:28

Another Ristaremix? Hell yes!!! :D

on 2010-11-17 00:38:46

First, this song is absolutely amazing, and very well organized and smooth.

Second, my Mom being a orchestral music teacher, who is constantly being cut through different schools all over the state, due to budget cuts, it hurts. I have been at both ends of the spectrum in extracurricular activities at school, playing sports and being in musical programs. But this was also before our economy has gone to hell causing wide-spread massive budget cuts throughout our school systems.

My advice for you guys, stick together, continue writing music outside of school, continue remixing! You guys have already proved how amazing you are, and there are plenty of opportunities for you guys to play your music at gigs and venues! I feel that you guys should spread your sound for everyone just to see what we're all missing just by cutting some schools music programs.

I wish you guys luck, and I hope to see some more of your music on here!

Nobbynob Littlun
on 2010-11-16 16:36:42

SHOOP dobedo bop bop SHOOP debedo bop

Some great music here!

on 2010-11-16 15:26:08

Oh man I have loved this remix since the WIP forums. Makes me wiggle... in sexy ways.

Why am I writing that?

on 2010-11-16 14:43:04

Very simple but super effective, great arrangement, very enjoyable to listen! Congrats and nice work! :nicework:

on 2010-11-16 12:08:24

kickass. ristar has some great music. i remember hearing this mix on the workshop forums a while back, and it's just as awesome now. :D

on 2010-11-16 11:55:41

Sounds like old-school OneUp Mushrooms. Good stuff.

on 2010-11-16 11:41:13

Clean, simple, raw. I likes :D

And totally agreed with your music/education comments DJP. SouthWestern College Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble 4eva!

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Ristar (Sega , 1995, GEN)
Music by Masafumi Ogata,Naofumi Hataya,Tomoko Sasaki
"Dancing Leaves (Round 1-2)"

Tags (6)

Acoustic Guitar
Production > Live Ensemble
Production > Live Recording

File Information

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