Following by ten years his original Contraband project, tenor sax player Cliff Colon has reformed the group to create more compelling modern jazz drawn from the melodies of late 80s video games. Whatever that looks like on paper to you, in practice Contraband Reloaded sounds like a genius.
Colon says he remembers hearing rock bands cover these musical themes, but the world of modern jazz is a perfect setting to turn acorns of 8-bit melodies into mighty oak trees of creativity. A repetitive melody and harmony with a simple beat provides a launching pad for improvisation while returning to a catchy musical theme that gamers like Colon have had knocking around their heads since their teen years.
To be certain, the talented crew of musicians he’s gathered is the key to Contraband’s appeal. In our studios, Colon stood aside alto sax player Justin Cottrell, Jacques Willis plays his amplified vibraphone, Andy Coe’s on electric guitar, Farko Dosumov features prominently on electric bass, with Eric Verlinde’s keyboard wizardry and the back beat of D’Vonne Lewis’ drums.
If that lineup looks familiar, you might be a fan of D’Vonne Lewis’ Limited Edition band, it’s nearly the same. On Contraband’s new recordings, the Marriott Brothers Thomas and David play trumpet & trombone, and second guitarist R.L Heyer. In a clever appeal to the gaming community, Contraband is releasing videos of the recording sessions online at youtube.com/contrabandreloaded.
The new project includes other Nintendo themes from games like Metroid, Castlevania and The Legend of Zelda along with more music from their namesake game Contra. Though sure to spark nostalgia for serious video gamers, Contraband thrilled our studio audience of listeners who hadn’t heard of any of these games.
The deepest nooks and crannies of today’s music business have been feeding this 80s nostalgia in countless ways. In fact, just last year Mondo records released the original score to Contra on collectible vinyl.
Contraband Reloaded is ready for release, with plans for celebratory concerts in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. Save up those quarters and give this game a try!