12 times jazz bopped into video games (part 3)

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“Main Street” by Steve Kirk from Voodoo Vince

Style: Gypsy jazz, hot club jazz

Influences: Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt

Something about cheeky, choppy tunes and the art style evokes Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge; however, in spite of a 2017 remaster, it’s not likely that Voodoo Vince will be well-remembered as the LucasArts classic or even more highly-regarded character platformers of the time.

“Bosco’s” by Jared Emerson-Johnson in Sam & Max Save the World of Telltale

Style: Big band, swing, latin jazz

Influences: Earl Hines, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie

It’s worth playing Sam & Max games’ three seasons just to listen to the fantastic jazz-infused soundtrack. During season one which is later renamed ‘Save the World’, composer Jared Emerson-Johnson sounds like he is in his element, using as many jazz colors as possible across the scores. He will deploy ‘noise jazz’, as described, for darker moments while conjuring up some zesty ’50s/’60s dishwasher advert musak when the mood takes him.

“Casino Calavera” by Peter McConnell from Grim Fandango

Style: Swing, swing revival, big band

Influences: Benny Goodman, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Count Basie

The soundtrack of Grim Fandango keeps turning up on Laced With Wax Listicle™ because of two reasons: it’s really great; and it’s diverse wonderfully in terms of genre and instrumentation.

Composer Peter McConnell once talked about how the timing of this video game’s development in the late 1990s coincided with a surge of interest in swing music as well as the Mexican Day of the Dead. Peter McConnell cited going to see swing revival bands such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in Mission District of San Francisco, where he sourced most of the players who performed on the score.

Because Grim Fandango is a comedy, McConnell might have felt less restrained in writing toe-tapping tempos and catchy melodies than he might have been. Fortunately, the score is so brilliant, as players will inevitably have to listen to it looping for long periods when they frustratedly try and untangle the web of tricky puzzles.