Uematsu meets Mingus: Local ensemble debuts fusion of jazz and video game music
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Jazz and video games collide on September 30, 2017 when local composer and saxophonist Gregory Weaver debuts original arrangements with his new ensemble, The Hard Modes. The two-hour premiere will kick off at 7 PM at C’ville Coffee, which is located minutes from historic downtown Charlottesville.
Blending modern jazz improvisation, rhythms, and harmonies with tracks from popular video game titles, Weaver believes that the arrangements may be the first of their kind. In them, listeners will hear melodies from video games imbued with the styles of jazz icons like Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and Chris Potter. Weaver’s selections range from some of Nobuo Uematsu’s classic works for the Final Fantasy series to Austin Wintory’s groundbreaking pieces in Journey, a modern hit that features the first Grammy-nominated game soundtrack.
“While using the term ‘jazz’ to describe their arrangements, what most game remixers tend to write is smooth, lounge, and pop-based music instead of American improvisatory art music,” says Weaver. “We’re here to change that—to ‘level up’ fans’ and remixers’ perceptions of what is possible.”
According to Weaver, the purpose of fusing the genres is twofold: first, to help video game music evolve; and second, to unearth a side of jazz that had always been waiting to be discovered. “Since its birth, part of the lifeblood of jazz has been recontextualizing popular music. Somehow, to this point, video game music has been majorly overlooked. As games become more and more part of everyday popular culture, it is essential for jazz artists to integrate game music into their repertoire,” he states.
In fusing the genres, he hopes both to bring gamers closer to modern jazz and put the imaginative writing of game composers on display for jazz lovers. The concert aims to expand the horizons of both these groups, bringing them together in ways that perhaps neither thought possible.
The Hard Modes is a sextet comprised of local jazz artists Brandon Walsh (trumpet), Dhara Goradia (bass), Trevor Williams (vibes), Nick Berkin (keys), and Garrett Moore (drums), as well as Weaver on tenor and soprano saxophones. Weaver, Walsh, and Goradia have been performing together since they met as freshman in 2005 at University of Virginia, where they studied under the tutelage of jazz masters John D’earth, Pete Spaar, and Jeff Decker. For the last two years, they have been performing regularly as part of the C’ville Jazz Congregation.
There is a $7 cover charge at the door for this event, which is presented by Score Musicworks, Weaver’s game music pseudonym. Those interested in learning more and getting the latest information can connect with the event via Facebook (facebook.com/scorevgm), Twitter (@scorevgm), and Instagram (@cvillejazz), as well as the Score Musicworks website, www.scorevgm.com.