The JAZZ-ON! franchise kicks off on the right foot with Hoshikuzu Ryodan‘s exuberant “Ryodan Nakama wa Shinjite mo…“.
JAZZ-ON! is a new project created by Akatsuki Inc. To get to know better about the story and each group including key visuals and first song previews, check THIS article.
Hoshikuzu Ryodan consist of Makoto Furukawa, Yoshiki Nakajima, Kento Ito, Yoshiki Murakami, Haruki Ishiya, Kengo Kawanishi, Takeaki Masuyama and Shun Horie.
Title: JAZZ-ON! Sessions 「旅団仲間は信じても、ラクダの紐は縛っておけ」 Label: UNIVERSAL MUSIC JAPAN Release date: 27/11/2019 Genre: Jazz
1 -「響鳴スペクトラム 星屑旅団JAZZアレンジバージョン」 2 -「Light away! 星屑旅団JAZZアレンジバージョン」 3 - 星屑旅団 Drama Track #1 4 - 星屑旅団 Drama Track #2
Track by track analysis:
1 – 響鳴スペクトラム
“Hibiki Spectrum” is one of those jazz tracks that instantly grab your attention.
The syncopated drums in the verses, the vigorous piano melody – driving this song forward at astounding pacing – and the punchy bassline will have you going.
The verses have a loungy vibe, with the piano taking over with a lot of flair while the bassline drives the vocals forward.
And those piano and drums solos?
That’s the stuff that you want to find in jazz music, the improvisation, the elegant solos and the unique sonorities that are created through both. This song more than covers for that.
On the vocal end, Shun Horie and Yoshiki Murakami work together to deliver an energetic performance filled with fancy ad-libs and solid solo parts.
2 – Light away!
There’s no time to waste in this song. “Light away!” has obvious influences of bebop jazz, going for those crazily fast-paced melodies while keeping up the elegance of the performance.
And leading the way in this song are 2 saxophones, I reckon an alto and baritone (I may be wrong in my assessment, but I sure there’s a baritone sax on this one).
Then, in the background, you have fast paced drums, wah-wah guitars, a rhodes piano and a crunchy contrabass spreading its groovy basslines.
The verses count as well with clavinet melodies, quite the unique touch to an already rich jazz song.
And what happens when you enlist THE jazz artist among seiyuu and a vocal powerhouse to perform in the same song?
You get a performance with a lot of color in it. Makoto Furukawa is a masterful jazz singer, knowing the ins and outs of the genre, adding a lot of flamboyance and unpredictability to his performances that make it impossible to not be paying attention to him.
On the other hand, Kento Ito is a vocal powerhouse, adapting well to any genre you challenge him to perform. He covers a wide vocal range, which is useful to complement Furukawa as well as to stand out on his own – the thing he does with those stellar high notes throughout the song.
This was quite the ride! First entry in the ambitious JAZZ-ON! franchise.
And yes, this review arrives almost 2 years since its release but it doesn’t take away how enjoyable and tasteful “Ryodan nakama wa shinjite mo, rakuda no himo wa shibatte oke” is.
Complex melodies and drums rhythm signatures galore and a lot of bebop jazz going on in this release. And that’s a massive treat for fans of the genre like myself. There’s no time to catch a breather but that’s for the best.
You can feel euphoria overflowing through “Hibiki Spectrum” and “Light away!”. While it can be quite intense and draining – experiencing bebop’s insane speed – it is a blast to listen to it and enjoying the intricate melodies, the bouncy basslines, the jaw-droppingly awesome piano melodies, and saxophone solos.
If I had to choose the best performance, I’d, hands down, hand it to Furukawa and Ito that absolutely dazzled with their ability to embrace the quirkiness of bebop, and added their own flair to it. I feel like their performance was the most natural/comfortable out of both duets.
Hoshikuzu Ryodan knows how to make an entrance, I’ll give ‘em that. This small sample of what the group can have me excited to check all other entries in the JAZZ-ON! franchise.
JAZZ-ON! Sessions 「Ryodan nakama wa shinjite mo, rakuda no himo wa shibatte oke」is not available for purchase at CDJAPAN.