My inaugural VGMusings is about one of my all-time favorite arrange albums, the Ace Attorney Jazz Album, called “Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul” or “Turnabout Meets Jazz Soul”. The Ace Attorney series not only has great music but just great sound design all around. And this album proudly shows it.
Instead of being an arrange album that “plays it straight” by maintaining the same genre and tempo, and merely actualizing the real instruments that the original songs inferred, Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul drastically changes the style and mood of the songs. In parts it’s following the original song’s melody and structure, and then in other parts it’s improvising (a necessary part of Jazz in general), and then swinging back and forth between these two states. Some songs sound so drastically different from the original that they become unrecognizable, specifically the Steel Samurai theme. The original is an upbeat, heroic theme song, very fitting for a superhero show made for kids. Here, it’s just a complete opposite. It’s slow and more somber. Some of the other songs sound much more faithful to the original, like Godot’s theme “The Aroma Of Black Coffee”. Though that’s not surprising considering the original was itself a Jazzy tune.
(And now this is the part where I just fill space by reading off of VGMdb.net)
The Album was arranged by Noriyuki Iwadare (VGMdb page here), who composed for Ace Attorney Trails and Tribulations (Gyakuten Saiban 3), Ace Attorney Investigations (Gyaktuen Kenji), and the Japan-only Gyakuten Kenji 2. He’s also returning for Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies, which is sounding great so far. Before the Ace Attorney games, he composed for the Lunar & Grandia RPG games for Game Arts, and the Lagrisser tactical RPG games for Career Soft (This blog post expands on that part of his history pretty neatly). He arranged for a host of games, from Afterburner to Fire Pro Wrestling to Devil Crush & Alien Crush. He also contributed to a lot of “Omnibus” soundtracks featuring a host of famous VGM composers (like Kid Icarus: Uprising or many CAVE Shooters).
The music was performed by Metamorphosis Jazztet (sometimes incorrectly translated as Metamorphosis Jazz Band). They are a long-running prominent Taiwanese Jazz band, having started in the late ’90s and are still active, playing in concerts and other live gigs. This Taipei Times interview with them back in 2001 is a great introductory piece about the band and about the Jazz scene in Taiwan and Asia. And here is the discography of the band and some of its members’ solo projects, though none seem to be on iTunes or other digital music services. They also have an official website, though seems it hasn’t been updated for a while now.