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Mario & Zelda Big Band Live CD :: Review by Jared

Mario & Zelda Big Band Live CD Album Title: Mario & Zelda Big Band Live CD
Record Label: Scitron Digital Contents
Catalog No.: SCDC-00315
Release Date: December 10, 2003
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


This album is one of the more interesting and creative ones out there that I have heard. Although the performance isn't exactly top-notch, most jazz and swing music isn't perfect and it only adds to the character of the arrangements. The album contains eighteen tracks from various Mario and Zelda games, with a pretty fair representation of each. Chances are, there are at least several tracks most would enjoy depending on tastes, and there is a little bit for everyone here.


The best of the Mario offerings is undoubtedly the "Super Mario 64 Opening". A faithful but highly enjoyable version of the popular main theme of Super Mario 64, this arrangement is upbeat and active and features a few soloists improvising on the spot. "Go Go Go Mario" is one of the most curious tracks on the album. The ever-admired Mario theme is arranged here, and a vocalist is added. I don't have the slightest idea what she is saying, but I have to say I wonder what exactly one would sing to accompany such an upbeat and happy theme representing a superhero plumber. Nonetheless, it is still easy to listen to and is certainly interesting.

Things deviate a bit with "Yoshi On The Beach," a slightly minimalistic arrangement of Yoshi's theme for vibraphone and acoustic guitar accompaniment. The mood is very relaxed and has that easy listening, lounge atmosphere. The vibraphonist and guitarist both have some well-played solo sections which are a bit simple but perfectly suitable to the mood.

Beyond the jazz and swing genres, the album has a few bluegrass offerings as well, which are extremely successful in their deliverance and are much more unique than most of the other arrangements present. The first of these (and perhaps the most effective) is the serene 'Windwaker Opening". Featuring a sweet and somber violin melody playing over light drum, bass, and guitar accompaniment, it bleeds of emotion and nostalgia, and despite being a bit slow it never loses validity as a great arrangement. Similarly, "Dragon Roost Island" plays out in a comparable style, though "...Island" is more active and upbeat.

"Mario Scat Version" is the most enjoyable take on the classic Mario theme that I have yet heard. Featured in Super Mario Sunshine, this doo-wop vocal arrangement is tons of fun to listen to (and even to sing along with). It has a humor to it that just makes it a joy to hear and I can't help but smile when this track plays. Another fun track is "Goron City," a rhythmic arrangement with great development.

Perhaps the album's worst track (though by no means bad), "Epona's Song," is a very faithful arrangement from the Ocarina of Time classic. It has a dated country feel to it which is partly why it is my least favorite, though it still holds a certain nostalgia in my heart. The most active and riveting arrangement is definitely "Slider (Encore)". Written in a bluegrass style, it features very active string parts and a honky-tonk rhythm quality. Another good thing is that for once, an audience can clap on beat! The track is quite long and goes through numerous variations, so it stays relatively interesting throughout.


This album is definitely one of the more fun and entertaining that I have yet heard. I've always been a huge fan of Nintendo's music; it holds a special place in my heart and the pure nostalgia of listening to these tracks is appeasing enough. Add to that some great arrangements, emotive performances, and tons of character, and you've got yourself a wonderful album worth many listens.

Overall Score: 9/10