Posted 2018-01-23, evaluated by the judges panel


Bowlerhat (Jorik Bergman) takes us on a Latin-jazz samba big band extravaganza LIVE recording of a truly epic, infectious, & not-to-be-missed arrangement of "Angel Island Zone" from Sonic 3, making for an early highlight to 2018. She's got a lot to say, so please hear her out:

"It's funny how life can go... I still remember quite vividly how, around the time I was almost graduating high school, I was fantasizing about being this really big and important remixer for OC ReMix. My head was, and still is, filled with songs I want to cover and arrangement ideas, and one of my most ambitious and favorite ideas has always been to make a big band cover of a video game tune and send it to you guys. However, it has always been one of those ideas that your really see as a dream, and I definitely never saw it happening in the timespan of then and 6 years. But, being a daydreamer, it was one of the many scenarios that would now and then pass through my head. Actually, in my weird, ego-boosting daydreams, it wasn't that much of a big deal at all. It'd be around my 7th posted remix, featuring an amateur big band from my hometown or something, and everyone would be flabbergasted by my achievement as I only graduated music school for a few years, and I actually recorded a real life big band. Back then, I didn't know much about big bands, so I didn't really have a clear picture in my head, but I just assumed that it would just come with the time.

And now, after some time, I'm finally sending in my big band arrangement. When I heard we were going to write a big band piece for my main subject at the conservatory, I was actually immediately thinking about OC ReMix, because I really, really, really, really want to be a part of the scene. And when the actual specific writing task lent itself for some Sonic 3 so well, I was getting really excited. This arrangement is by far the biggest thing I've ever written. Before I wrote "Samba del Anjos," I had never even written for small jazz ensembles, and the biggest amount of different instruments I had arranged for was 2. And then there was this big band project. So to say I'm proud of myself would be an understatement. Not only because I finally managed to write the thing I've always wanted to write, but especially because at the the moment of writing this particular sentence it hasn't even been a year since I graduated from high school. And my big band piece wasn't performed by an amateur big band in a small concert in my hometown, but at a big jazz festival in Maastricht, by the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw from Amsterdam, which is one of the best big bands in the whole world. So when I consider that since those days of naive daydreaming it hasn't even been a year, I'm very excited about the things I've accomplished a year from now, and the things a year after that. Because last year, when I was still this innocent naive high school girl, I really didn't know that I could have accomplished this so fast.

But enough of my senseless rambling, and onto the music. At this particular recording the big band of my conservatory is playing, because I prefer their performance above the performance of the Jazz Orchestra for various reasons. If this piece gets past the panel, it'd be great if at least their names could be quoted for djpretzels writeup, because they really deserve the credit. They're amazing, and I'm forever grateful that they performed my music so well."

Conservatorium Maastricht Big Band:


  • Antoine Colin
  • Marvin Frey
  • Ie Rang Kang
  • Sten Pelzer


  • Ludo Dodemont
  • Jorge Felipe Nieto
  • Carla Dobbie
  • Dirk Bosman


  • Jon Sensmeier - alto + solo
  • Miguel Angel Lous - alto
  • Robin Rebetez - tenor
  • Alexander Scott - tenor
  • Bram Budna - bari

Rhythm Section:

  • Lukas Dahle - drums
  • Vincent van Reen - guitar
  • Phillipe Ramaekers - piano
  • Wolf van Gemert - electric bass


  • Wolfgang Braun

Considering the arrangement, I've got quite some things to say. It's obviously a sambafied version of the original and it often stays quite close to the source, but it nevertheless was quite difficult to make it work for a jazz ensemble. First of all, because there were some "wrong" notes in the original, which don't really stand out because of the synthesizers, but will become more obvious with live instruments. To give a few examples: at 0:58 and 1:06, there was a minor 6 clash between the lead and bassline, which I solved by reharmonizing the original chord progression from Dm7 - Gm7 - Cm7 - F7 to Bbmaj9/D - Ebmaj7/G - Cm7 - F7. One of the things I wasn't able to solve, however, was the clash at 0:40 and all the other upbeats to the main motive between the D in the lead and the Eb7 chord. I think most people won't notice it, but, theoretically speaking, it's very, very wrong.

The reason I included the original source in the arrangement is because I anticipated that there wouldn't be a lot of people in the audience who would know the original song. And including a small "window" to show them what inspired me to write the arrangement seemed like a nice idea. To quote the text I wrote the for the concerts: "This piece is a samba arrangement of the 'Angel Island Zone' theme from Sonic 3. It's an effort to combine the nostalgia and 8-bit bleeps and bloops of the original video game with the sound and general jazziness of the big band world." Including the original track in the arrangement also gave some problems, though. Mostly because I transposed the song down to B flat in order to make it fit the trumpet and alto sax range more. Which meant that I had to modulate to C somewhere before the "window" and get back to B flat directly after, which I managed to pull off by including some trombone harmonies right over the original and the F7 as a pivot chord back to Bb. By the way, the original track was played by me by holding my iPod against a microphone during the concerts. It's kind of sad though, because it gave me a lot of cheering and applause while I only pressed one button at the right time, while Jon's epic saxophone solo a little bit before that doesn't get any applause at all, because the solo leads directly into the "window". So, while listening, please don't forget to appreciate that solo to the fullest."

Here's a small arrangement and source breakdown:

  • 0:00-0:10: Original samba intro
  • 0:10-1:22: Source material, a lot of original countermelodies, comping, and samba-inspired source interpretations
  • 1:23-2:17: Jon's alto solo, original material, the samba piano intro, and a few source-inspired backing lines
  • 2:18-2:47: Source material, some original trombone harmonies, and a random guy imitating a cowboy
  • 2:48-3:18: Differently interpreted source material
  • 3:19-3:43: Original material heavily derived from the source, a drum solo, and some quotes from the two main motives
  • 3:44-3:56: Clapping, clapping, and some more clapping

Something else I feel I need to mention is the title of the piece. Because I wrote a samba, I thought that it'd be cool to make the title in Brazilian. So, despite knowing a few Brazilian peeps, I used Google Translate to translate samba of the angels. "Samba del Anjos" sounded quite nice so I stayed with it. After that, I was talking with a Brazilian guitar player in the pub, and he told me it's actually "Samba dos Anjos." Naturally, that was after I printed all the sheets for the players and the program had been sent to the concert halls, which meant that I couldn't change it anymore. So "Samba del Anjos" is some kind of combination between Brazilian and Spanish... sorry for that.

And I think that that's all I have to say. To be honest, I could continue rambling about the piece for hours, but I suppose that this covers all the necessary information and a few extra thingies for the bonus questions. Enjoy the piece, and I really hope that it gets past the judges."

Well DAMN; this is one of the most vivacious & fun pieces you're gonna hear all year, and it's cool to see Jorik step out from the OC Jazz Collective with a solo arrangement that actually utilizes an even larger ensemble. While live recordings are difficult in general and larger ensembles particularly challenging, this captures the positive energy in the room, the talent & musicianship of the group and of individual soloists, and the charm & creativity of Jorik's arrangement. Judges were unanimous and while there were some nits to pick on the recording, everyone loved the arrangement & performances, and Larry's short-but-sweet decision sums it up best:

"Just a great live jazz adaptation, straight up. Props on manifesting this in such a strong way, Jorik, taking the performance beyond what you'd originally envisioned, thanks to the Conservatorium Maastricht Big Band. Love it!"

Get your amigos together & get ready to samba them, because it's ridiculously hard not to move SOME part of your body & smile wide at this one. If you've been following the news recently:

  1. Don't.
  2. Listen to this instead!
  3. Okay maybe follow the news a little, but still try to stay positive... by listening to this mix AGAIN!

...because I feel like we all could use a pick-me-up, lately, and this certainly works for me. Highly recommended, super fun, & an amazing accomplishment for a young arranger, whose work is brought to life by a superb ensemble of musicians!



Latest 5 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2018-01-26 03:16:25

I don't know a damn bit whether this is samba or Brazilian or big band or what the hell this is, I only know two things: that this remixer put a ton of work into this project and actually pulled it off with something like 15 live musicians, and this piece is just darned FUN!

Congratulations and well done!!

on 2018-01-24 11:30:06

I don't think it's THAT far, actually. It may not be what I'm used to identify as a contemporary Carnaval parade samba-enredo (which was the source of inspiration for one of my mixes) and the bass drum beat could probably highlight just a bit more of the track rhythmic presence at times, but I can hear the samba here. I've already heard many orchestral arrangements of traditional samba music which sounded pretty similar to this.

on 2018-01-23 22:00:59

This is WAY FAR from Brazilian samba, it's something more to a jazzy, big band salsa that is played at the Caribbean clubs but damn this is a great upbeat remix! Keep up the good work! =)
Yeah, I've read about the naming mistranslation and your friend is correct saying it should be "Samba dos Anjos" but it's also incorrect in Spanish where it should be "Samba de los Angeles".

Best regards!

on 2018-01-23 19:00:09

My therapist puts orchestral samba for background music in the waiting room every time and I'm gonna present this to her playlist.


on 2018-01-22 11:27:55

What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Sega , 1994, GEN)
Music by Bobby Brooks,Brad Buxer,C. Cirocco Jones,Darryl Ross,Doug Grigsby III,Geoff Grace,Jun Senoue,Michael Jackson,Tatsuyuki Maeda,Tomonori Sawada
"Angel Island Zone: Act 1"

Tags (10)

Production > Live Ensemble
Production > Live Instruments
Production > Live Recording
Regional > Latin American

File Information

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