It’s International Jazz Day! The world comes together to celebrate those classic grooves and funky licks. We’ve picked out 7 awesome gaming jazz bands and artists to bring retro vibes to your toes!
Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Lost Woods
The most visually compelling of our jazzy line-up; this cover has all the makings of a stunning acid-jazz piece. Lead by a stunning bass riff and key combo, we’re taken deep into the woods. The Skull Kid emerges and in comes that classic saxophone melody. YamaYama invokes those classic gaming scores, reworking them their own jazzy way – from Castlevania to Sonic the Hedgehog. You’re in for a toe-tapping treat!
Find out more: YamaYama
Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Main Theme
Carlos Eiene produces a stunning line-up of jazz covers from a wide range of games weekly. Zelda, Pokémon, Sonic – there’s much love for these classics! The odd newcomer also joins the mix; as well as collabs with fellow jazz-heads. Carlos’ Breath of the Wild arrangement is absolutely stunning. It soars like Revali through powerful sax lines and dips into a Hyrulean night through striking keys.
Find out more: insaneintherainmusic
Super Mario Kart – Rainbow Road
If there’s one jazzy cover to boost your mood it has to be Rainbow Road by TheOneUps. The band has celebrated over fifteen years of covers, performances and have continually evolved. Having forged a buzz at PAX, MAGFest, GDC and more, the group have re-arranged much-loved soundtracks. With so many grooves to pick from; we settled for this cover of the karting classic. It’s just so anthemic; power-sliding that classic riff to a sunset dash through synth keys and funky rhythms.
Find out more: TheOneUps
Sonic & Knuckles – Flying Battery Zone
The Super Soul Bros.
Known for their high-energy, grooving live shows, The Super Soul Bros. are a band that packs a mighty retro punch. Fusing funk with jazz, into a blender with classic games, the result is a cocktail that infuses toe-tappingly good vibes. Lead by Robbie Benson, the group have performed at various events, dipping into the likes of Mario, Undertale and Sonic. We absolutely love The Super Soul Bros. take on this 16-bit Sonic anthem – horns breathing feel-good jazzy vibes over that buttery-smooth guitar lick.
Find out more: The Super Soul Bros.
Chrono Trigger – Secret of the Forest
Jazz guitarist Xnarky is definitely one to watch; and one of the newcomers to the YouTube jazz covers scene. Having lured us in with a stunning cover of The Lost Woods, Xnarky’s worked on jazz/neo soul and even reggae takes on Final Fantasy, classic Mario, Final Fantasy and fan-favourite Kingdom Hearts pieces. Absolutely love his take on Square’s classic RPG; Chrono Trigger. Stumble deep into a mysterious forest and be in awe of Xnarky’s smooth piano tones and tight jazzy guitar licks. Many have taken on Secret of the Forest, but this cover in particular critical hits all the notes in spectacular style.
Find out more: Xnarky
Metroid: Kraid’s Lair
From their origins with a Contra album, the jazz group have come together to blend intricate and flowing arrangements for classic NES/SNES games. Hitting up the studio every few months, Contraband Reloaded recently released Metroid covers that even Ridley would bop up and down to. This particular jam invades Kraid’s Lair with a driving melody, swerving into an exceptional vibraphone solo and leaping back into battle with a bounty hunter sax punch.
Find out more: Contraband Reloaded
Persona 5 – Beneath the Mask
J-MUSIC Ensemble feat Ruby Choi
One of the newer groups on the scene is The J-MUSIC Ensemble. Lead by the brilliant saxophonist Patrick Bartley, the group features regular guest musicians and recently started live jamming sessions on YouTube. The J-MUSIC Ensemble’s Persona 5 covers are true to the original vibes of the hit 2017 game; woven with grooving improvisation and rich layers of fine jazz licks. We absolutely love guest vocalist Ruby Choi’s spine-tingling rendition of Beneath the Mask in this jam.
Find out more: J-MUSIC Ensemble
Cover image by Corey Blaz
What are your favourite geeky jazz gaming covers? Let us know in the commets below.