By Doug Hall, WICN Public Radio
When you think about video game themes, the word “Jazz” does not easily come to mind. However, on March 1st at the Berklee Performance Center, Charlie Rosen, “gamer,” multi-instrumentalist and orchestral composer/arranger brought the two together with his 30+ piece Jazz orchestra, the 8-Bit Big Band. He wowed an audience spanning the generations from pre-Nintendo to xBox. An exceptionally gifted musician capable of playing over 70 instruments, Rosen, at 29, has already been involved in arranging Broadway shows as an associate musical director and orchestrator for American Psycho, Be More Chill, and Prince of Broadway. The show’s immersion into expanded, enhanced orchestral arrangements of familiar video game themes from Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Donkey Kong, and Pokémon debunked any preconceived notions of simplistic, pop-oriented theme repetition. Instead, with a nearly 2-hour set, Rosen and his 8-Bit Big Band demonstrated an astoundingly rich and complex selection of arrangements for orchestra, taken from simpler videogame themes that exploded the boundaries of Jazz innovation. Read the full review here.