A la carte, indeed.
The third (and, I pray, final) album in the new brass quintet series is a most random smattering of songs from Koichi Sugiyama’s repertoire of Dragon Quest compositions. Like its predecessors, this brass quintet also includes some diverse percussion, which allows for a lot of jazz influence on these arrangements.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that they’ve run out of good pieces to arrange for this group of musicians. Despite having the same arrangers and performers, I just wasn’t impressed. The first two brass quintet albums were solid, and very enjoyable. This album arranges songs that just don’t seem to stand out in the world of brass. And I’m not saying this just because the majority of the album comes from the un-numbered “gaiden” titles (Yangus and Monsters). Indeed, I thought the only worthwhile arrangements on the disc came from here.
The album starts up the way 99% of all Dragon Quest soundtracks start–with the Overture. This arrangement of the Overture is over-the-top swing jazz. It’s a fairly catchy arrangement, but this classic melody is hard to swallow in any form other than in the grandiose orchestral style we’re so used to. An impressive arrangement, yes, but very off-putting.
DQII, III, IV, V, and VIII each get one track on the album. None of these pieces gripped me in the way the other brass quintet albums had. And, comparing these arrangements to their symphonic suite counterparts, there’s no question which versions I like more. DQVIII’s “Conversation” is enjoyable, and the DQIV medley isn’t half-bad. The rest were entirely uninspired jazz arrangements.
Then Yangus’s Big Adventure hits the scene. These were my favorite tracks of the album. The DQ Monsters tracks are good too, if only because they haven’t been over-arranged. It was refreshing to hear some lesser-known Sugiyama on this album.
All in all, though, I’d only want this album to complete the trilogy. It’s nice for collectors, but it pales in comparison to the other Brass Quintet albums. That’s all the more I can think to say about this CD.