I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tokyo Ensemble Lab -- Nica's Dream

After first listening to Tokyo Ensemble Lab's fabulous fusion of "Lady Ocean" from their 1988 album "Breath From The Season", I then listened to one more track from the album, their version of the jazz standard "Nica's Dream". I was frankly flabbergasted.

Tokyo Ensemble Lab, led by trumpeter Shin Kazuhara(数原晋), couldn't have sounded more different. The fusion of "Lady Ocean" gave way to the swing jazz of "Nica's Dream". And the jazz couldn't have been more percolating! From the hot summer day on the beach to the cool lounge in Aoyama. The experience of listening to these two tracks had me thinking of Tokyo Ensemble Lab as a Japanese instrumental version of the Manhattan Transfer.

"Nica's Dream" is over 7 minutes of a high-energy jazz buffet with all of the instruments getting their chance to shine in the spotlight. If anyone asks me why I like big band swing, I will simply let them listen to this. Although I didn't see any comments from the anime crowd under the YouTube video, I'm pretty sure that comparisons with "Tank!" from "Cowboy Be-Bop" that came out a decade later may be inevitable. Strangely enough, leader Kazuhara, has taken part in his fair share of anime themes through Yuji Ohno's(大野雄二)and Joe Hisaishi's(久石譲)works.

According to Wikipedia's entry for the song, "Nica's Dream" was originally composed by Horace Silver and named for one of the big patrons for bebop music, Pannonica de Koenigswarter. The above is the 1956 version performed by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

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