Review | JAZZ-ON! “Kaibyaku≠Beginning”

jazz-on!

Members of Swing Cats and Hoshikuzu Ryodan raise the bar with outstanding performances in “Kaibyaku≠Beginning“.

JAZZ-ON! is a 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.

Swing Cats consist of Yuki Yonai, Wataru Komada, Shunichi Toki, Toshinari Fukamachi, Genki Okawa, Makoto Ishii, Arthur Lounsbery, and Shinichiro Kamio.

Hoshikuzu Ryodan consist of Makoto Furukawa, Yoshiki Nakajima, Kento Ito, Yoshiki Murakami, Haruki Ishiya, Kengo Kawanishi, Takeaki Masuyama and Shun Horie.


Kai byaku≠Beginning
Title: 開闢≠Beginning
Label: UNIVERSAL MUSIC JAPAN
Release date: 24/04/2020
Genre: Jazz

Tracklist:

01.Now or never 
02.千本桜 星屑旅団JAZZアレンジバージョン 
03.JAZZ-ON! Drama Tracks #1
04.JAZZ-ON! Drama Tracks #2
05.JAZZ-ON! Drama Tracks #3

Track by track analysis:

1 – Now or never

Now or never” embrace a danceable Latin Jazz inspired tune – a first in the JAZZ-ON! franchise – however in a considerably slow pacing.

The verses have a satisfying slow pacing, with its sound being result of a mix of playful brass – trumpets, trombone – melodies, smoky saxophone solo parts and mellow double bass rhythms.

The chorus is extremely addictive and tasteful in its progression, allowing for the vocals to take centerstage.

The song counts with two solos – piano and saxophone – both adding a lot of spice to this tune.

On the vocal end, the song includes ad-libs courtesy of Shunichi Toki while filling in the beat towards the final chorus. He’s clearly leading the way for this performance, with his voice standing out on top – also due to him singing on a higher key than Genki Okawa does.

Speaking of Okawa, he’s all about his rhythm, embracing the playfulness of this song to deliver a performance in the same tone, riding on his comfortable mid-tones.

When it’s time for harmonies, both voices fit perfectly however Toki nudges past Okawa in terms of sheer raw power and voice placement.

2 – 千本桜

It’s time for an introspective, slow paced jazz tune with big focus on piano melodies while mixing trumpet parts and turntablism throughout.

Remember that Hoshikuzu Ryodan are known for an unorthodox approach to jazz music so, any elements from any music genres are fair game to add to their jazz sound.

If you’re a jazz purist, the turntablism parts will sound unnatural but if you’re in for the fun that is experimentalism – a big principle to jazz music – then, you’ll find yourself jamming to the turntablism bits as much as to that punchy contrabass rhythm that spreads its charm in the chorus.

There’s a melancholic tone to “Senbonzakura”, with the piano being dramatic at times, with its lower toned melodies and minor scales.

Behind the piano there’s splashy syncopated drums, trumpets and a contrabass. The instrumental is simplistic however, that simplicity is what makes it work so well.

Makoto Furukawa goes low for this song, embracing his natural low baritone register for a massive performance, all while adding a breathy touch to it.

On the other hand, Yoshiki Nakajima covers the mid-to-low tones, gently trailing his parts while also adding an airy touch to his performance.

It’s almost as if Furukawa and Nakajima are whispering their performance, something that heightens the whole crowded, small jazz club soundscape of this song.


Final considerations

Everything about this release is tasteful. Once again, the JAZZ-ON! franchise explores different sides to jazz music while enlisting some of the best singers in the franchise to perform those songs.

Now or never” is this single’s resident danceable song. Its slow-paced, salsa-inspired melodies and jazz work together, creating an extremely addictive song with a tasteful chorus that will get in your head in no time.

Senbonzakura” mixes lyrics with beautiful Japanese motifs with introspective, intimate jazz music. The song is perfect to listen to when you want to wind down due to its laidback vibe and low, breathy vocals on top.

Vocals were off the charts in “Kaibyaku≠Beginning”.

Shunichi Toki and Genki Okawa were paired for “Now or never” and delivered a powerful performance with a lot of depth, result of their contrasting singing tones and a natural comfort performing jazz music.

Makoto Furukawa and Yoshiki Nakajima performed “Senbonzakura”. They are, indisputably, 2 of the best singers among male seiyuu and their performance in “Senbonzakura”, showing their individual technique and voice tones as well as their impressive chemistry and harmonies as a duo, further solidified that for me. Masterclass from both.

When all is said and done, it’s no wonder “Kaibyaku≠Beginning” was climbing iTunes Jazz charts upon its release.

The music in this CD is tasteful at all times and has high replay value, the performances are mesmerizing, and the world both Swing Cats and Hoshizuku Ryodan crafted for the listener is colorful and rich, making you want to come back for more.


Kai byaku≠Beginning is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Now or never
千本桜
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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