Japanese, Miscellaneous, Reviews

Hibino + American and Canto Pop = Gentle Love (Review)

May 8, 2009 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Hibino + American and Canto Pop = Gentle Love (Review)on Twitter

We at OSV have had a lot of exposure to Norihiko Hibino and GEM Impact. But the vast majority of it has been for games and anime. But what about smooth jazz covers of pop/ballad standards in America and China? I bet you didn’t see this one coming.

“Gentle Love” is an album that Hibino-san is trying to promote in East and Southeast Asia to showcase his talents as a performer. The entire album is a jazz trio of piano (Yuichiro Onuki), guitar (Syuji Narikawa), and saxophone (Norihiko Hibino). And you wouldn’t believe the song selection.

Find out what they chose to cover, as well as what I thought of this strange demo album, after the jump!

Tracklist:
(track number / title / original artist)
01 Beautiful Girl (Jose Mari Chan)
02 Green Island Serenade (Zhou Lan Ping)
03 Descendant Of The Dragon (Hou De Jian)
04 And I Love You So (Don McLean)
05 Nadia’s Theme – The Young And The Restless (Barry DeVorson & Perry Botkin Jr.)
06 Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Bob Crewe)
07 Subaru (Shinji Tanimura)
08 Forever Love (Wang Lee Hom)
09 Ye Lai Xiang (Lee Ching Kwang)
10 Eres Tu (Juan Carlos Calderon)
11 Do What You Gotta Do (Jimmy Webb)

Okay, so it’s Chinese, American, and Latin American standards (plus one Japanese song, track 7). And it’s exactly what you’d expect; good, simple, instrumental jazz arrangements. The only surprising thing is the source: Norihiko Hibino, the same man who worked on the Metal Gear Solid series, now showing off his sax skills to the masses in a grocery store or 3-star restaurant (these are the places I assume you’d most likely hear the CD).

I have to give props to Hibino for the song selection. The Young and the Restless theme? Yes, sir! It brings back fond memories of me taking a sick day in elementary school (which happened far too often) and laying on the couch while my mom watched her all-time favorite soap opera. But Hibino’s arrangement kicks the socks off of any version I’ve heard while my mother watched the CBS hit show. They’ve covered that song 100 different ways, and none of them sound as refined or as authentic as what Hibino and crew put out. Though, I must say, what really sold this song for me was the acoustic guitar, not the sax.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” also came out well. I always think that this song sounds better with a fast tempo, but Hibino brought me into the fold of accepting it as a true, slow, love song. A “gentle love” song, so to speak.

My compliments for these arrangements apply to nearly every track on the album. Of course, I don’t know any of those Chinese songs. But I suspect that Chinese listeners may well enjoy the arrangements more than me, since they’ll have some nostalgic association with the melodies found on this CD.

VGMWorld will soon be stocking this album for importers who’d like to purchase it, and there is talk of an iTunes release.

A question for the readers: what other VGM composers have done cover albums? Because, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any. And I’d love to know of more, just to hear what they sound like. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sakuraba and his Wolf-Team pals did a Genesis cover album, but again, I’ve never heard of such a thing.

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