The 8-Bit Big Band: Game Changer

The fourth album from the NYC big band specialising in jazzing video-game themes is as ebullient, swinging and funky as its predecessors

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This is the fourth album by the jazz-pops orchestra The 8-Bit Big Band. Multi-instrumentalist, orchestrator, arranger and bandleader Charlie Rosen has gathered a vast array of talented musicians to explore, yes – you are reading this correctly – The Great Video Game Songbook.

Jazz has always appropriated music from other genres: classical, pop, rock, Disney, musicals, so why not gaming? Not being a gamer, I am unfamiliar with any of the original material that features on the album, so can’t relate the songs to stories or moments of high drama that might feature in some of the games mentioned. Sonic R, Marvel v Capcom 2, Persona 5 and The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time might as well come from Mars, for all I know.

And yet, wonderfully, this lack of knowledge on my part doesn’t make one iota of difference to enjoying the music. It’s tightly structured yet smooth on the ear, and Rosen has put together an album that works well. The arrangements could be of songs crafted in the 1950s, mixed with some more modern, funkier blues and hints of gospel in places.

Drawing on what must surely be approaching 100 different musicians across the 12 tracks, Game Changer is a breezy, optimistically upbeat listen that proves great music can be fashioned from any source of inspiration as long as it’s done with skill and style.


Discography
Intro To Album; Can You Feel The Sunshine?; I Wanna Take You For A Ride; Pollyanna; Super Bell Hill; You Wouldn’t Know; Beneath The Mask; Mabe Village; Tifa’s Theme; Passing Breeze; Song Of Storms; Last Surprise (54.28)
Charlie Rosen (arr, cond) and others. The Powerstation Studios, NYC, c. 2023.
Teamchuck Records