JAZZ-ON!’s shuffle CD series kicks off in style with “Invisible Chord 1st”.
JAZZ-ON! is a Jazz music 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.
SwingCATS consist of Yuki Yonai, Wataru Komada, Shunichi Toki, Toshinari Fukamachi, Genki Okawa, Makoto Ishii, Arthur Lounsbery and Shinichiro Kamio.
Title: Invisible Chord 1st Label: UNIVERSAL MUSIC JAPAN Release date: 22/01/2021 Genre: Jazz
1 - Invisible Chord 1st 2 - Lead Your Sound 3 - Ebony & Ivory 4 - Dissonance from the past -1- [DRAMA PART] 5 - Dissonance from the past -2- [DRAMA PART] 6 - Dissonance from the past -3- [DRAMA PART]
Track by track analysis:
1 – Invisible Chord 1st
A melancholic trumpet melody opens the curtain to the danceable “Invisible Chord 1st”. The verses are laidback with an infectious rhythm going, courtesy of the contrabass.
The chorus is catchy yet really simple. However, things get really interesting in the second half of the chorus, with a change in rhythm and tone spreading the good vibes of bossa nova, a welcomed addition to this fancy track.
Expect solos galore in this song: you have drums, contrabass and piano solos going on, with contrabass taking the cake for me. Absolute masterclass on that punchy bassline.
On the vocal end, you have Makoto Ishii, Toshinari Fukamachi, Genki Okawa, and Yuki Yonai delivering a performance filled with energy.
At times, however, I felt like the belting by the members or even the unison sections were a bit uneven, almost like some members were singing while others were screaming to make up for the lack of vocal range.
A flawless instrumental with a sloppy vocal performance on top.
2 – Lead Your Sound
A mysterious vibe takes over in “Lead Your Sound”. The song counts with a long intro to the sound of a syncopated, splashy beat, a punchy bassline and classy piano melodies that enhance the mystery going on in this track.
The verses are rather quiet, with a Rhodes piano, contrabass, and drums only accompanying the vocals. And that’s more than enough because there will be more than enough time for the instrumental to shine.
Ride-driven drums add a lot of elegance to the dim soundscape in front of you in this track. Then you have the trumpet and saxophone facing off in the 2 colorful solo sections and a bit throughout the song, adding a lot of color to “Lead Your Sound”.
Dazzling everyone on vocals are Makoto Ishii and Makoto Furukawa.
I love the contrast between vocals in this track. Ishii’s performance is on a mid-to-high vocal range whereas Furukawa is in that robust mid-to-low range of his.
This could have not worked well as the difference in their singing skills is quite significant but hell if Ishii didn’t put his best on the table and was able to match Furukawa’s quality and flamboyance!
Quite the impressive display as both went back and forth in their performance showcasing a lot of confidence and, when the time came for unison, they were in perfect sync.
3 – Ebony & Ivory
Wrapping up this CD is “Ebony & Ivory”, song that brings a darker sound to the spotlight, a first in the JAZZ-ON! franchise. The piano melodies are somber, going for those low notes to set a dramatic tone to this track.
The verses are slow paced, carrying a lot of weight on them, as the beat hits like ripples in the water and a minimalistic bassline tightens this instrumental.
Slowly, through its 2 verses and 3 chorus sections, the song builds up tension, the instrumental opens up, with the glockenspiel adding delicate, dreamy touches to this track.
“Ebony & Ivory” counts as well with a beautiful piano solo that heightens its emotional tone.
The song is performed by Toshinari Fukamachi and Shun Horie, contrasting singers with completely different skillsets at their disposal. Horie was all over those head voice notes and belting with Fukamachi responsible for the core of their performance, bringing robust mid-tones to the spotlight.
Strong showing in a unique setting.
JAZZ-ON!’s shuffle CD series kicks off in style with “Invisible Chord 1st”. This time around fans have 3 songs to enjoy per release – instead of 2 -, which is already a massive win.
“Lead Your Sound” and “Ebony & Ivory” stand out as the best songs in this CD, the first because of its air of mystery and the second for its quiet melancholic tone.
These were two special entries in the JAZZ-ON! franchise and, in my books, songs that give a different look at the versatility of jazz music. It’s not all about flamboyant melodies and syncopated rhythms, it’s not all about speed. “Lead Your Sound” is a good example of that.
Sometimes jazz is slow paced, introspective and emotional in completely different ways. “Ebony & Ivory” illustrates that very well.
The performances in both songs were, as expected, insanely good. In “Lead Your Sound” counts with a dynamic duo in Makoto Ishii and Makoto Furukawa.
Furukawa is in his element for jazz music thus his performance was so natural and engaging to the point that you can’t take your ears off of him. Ishii surprised with a strong performance – even if lacking a bit of still as of the time of this release – and worked really well together with Furukawa in the unison parts in the chorus.
“Ebony & Ivory” brought Toshinari Fukamachi and Shun Horie to the main stage. Fukamachi hasn’t impressed me so far and that’s much due to his inconsistency across JAZZ-ON!’s CDs.
For this song however, he sounded really solid, delivering a strong performance that served as the perfect contrast to Horie’s higher toned vocals.
“Invisible Chord 1st” may not be a flashy track nor have the best performances – I found the chorus to be quite messy, with some singers screaming that section instead of singing it, leading to quite the weird vocal mix. Had potential to be an awesome song – the instrumental is flawless – but the execution wasn’t that great in my opinion.
All in all, the JAZZ-ON! franchise continues to show its cards with a lot of talent on its lineup, rich voice tones, and plenty of unique skillsets at its disposal.
On top of that, the franchise counts with an array of engaging jazz songs, covering different music genres and with different moods, that will cater even to newcomers to the project and jazz music itself.
“Invisible Chord 1st” is a must-listen release with quite the easy-listening sound.
Invisible Chord 1st is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.