Imagine a jazz 10-musicians band comprised of musicians who usually play in left-off-field and alternative groups, only now play show tunes, rock anthems and jazz standards and you begin to understand what the Japanese Orquesta Libre is all about. The orchestra is led by drummer Yasuhiro Yoshigaki, known as a close associate of sound artist-guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, and member of seminal Japanese alternative groups as Altered States and Rovo.
The third album of Orquesta Libre features Japanese rock star ROLLY and its theme is opera and musicals songs. The Orquesta Libre already played similar songs on its previous albums, «Can’t Help Falling in Love: Plays Standards Instrumental Version» and «Plays Duke» (Glamorous Records, 2012 and 2013), but the theatrical, commanding presence of ROLLY charges the eclectic program with a certain charm, full of excess, show off tricks, still balanced with tons of humor and irony. The dramatic elements in songs from The Who «Tommy» rock opera, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill «The Threepenny Opera», the cult horror film «Rocky Horror Show», the musical «Cabaret» and the Japanese fifties comic opera «A Gay Caballero» are taken now to surprising extremes.
The opening song from «Cabaret», «Wilkommen», and «Just a Gigolo» stress the great influence of Duke Ellington big bands on Yoshigaki arrangements, both suggest the clever, playful interplay that color the full spectrum of the Orquesta Libre. The real fun begins with the version of The Who «Pinball Wizard» and «Acid Queen», both with a spectacular, massive brass and woodwinds arrangement and reckless and shameless, never-ending guitar solos. On both songs ROLLY shines with his charismatic yet amused delivery, sung in Japanese. The instrumental version of Focus «Sylvia» serves as an interlude before ROLLY returns with enchanting, theatrical version of to «Science Fiction Double Feature» from Rocky Horror Show, now sound as an obvious jazz standard. «Mr. Peachum’s Morning Hymn» from «The Threepenny Opera» is arranged as a bombastic rock anthem from the school of metal bands as Guns N’ Roses, with ROLLY playing the role of Axl Rose much better than the original. The last song from the opera «A Gay Caballero» ties all the veins. It is theatrical, shows Orquesta Libre in its most playful, mischievous mode, sparks with eccentric solos but never takes itself too seriously.
Yasuhiro Yoshigaki (dr, perc), Taisei Aoki (tb, keys, harm), Hiroyuki Shotani (ss, cl), Daisuke Fujiwara (ts), Takao Watanabe (tp), Gideon Jucks (tuba), Kumiko Takara (vib, keys, harm), Masato Suzuki (b), Moromu Shiiya (g), Yoichi Okabe (perc); ROLLY (g, theremin, v)