Someone turned the Ocarina of Time soundtrack into a perfect Zelda jazz album

Last year, musician and video essayist Adam Neely published a fascinating look at what he’the Nintendo-fication of jazz”, a phenomenon in which jazz bands of all stripes, but especially big bands, increasingly played arrangements of the fast, frenetic music of games like Mario Kart to sold-out audiences. Neely goes into many of the reasons (musicological and otherwise) why this happens – it’s definitely worth checking out.

Now we have another example of this phenomenon, but in a rather different form, from a different starting point. GameChops, a record label specializing in albums of laid-back covers of game music – usually in genres like lo-fi and synthwave, and with titles like Chocobo & Chill or Poké & Sleep – it came out Zelda and Jazza rearrangement of the classic soundtrack for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for jazz trio. And it’s actually quite magnificent.

Projects like this often end up a bit like musical cosplay – a fun idea that wears thin quite quickly and doesn’t get under the skin of the original music or chosen genre. But there is no doubt about the musicianship of the artists who – of course – call themselves the Deku Trio. GameChops calls the music “coffeehouse-style” jazz, and it is both very relaxing and musically refined, with piano taking the lead over double bass and whispering brushed drums.

The Deku Trio: Princess Keys, G, Dorf and Lincoln Beats.
Image: Riana Dorsey/GameChops

Each song takes one of Koji Kondo’s indelible, simple melodies and briefly reharmonizes and improvises around it, somewhere between two and three minutes. (If there is a complaint about it Zelda and JazzIt’s that these songs are quite short for the genre.) Tune after tune finds a perfect home in this new setting — from “Zelda’s Lullaby” to a casually uptempo, swinging “Song of Storms” — and there are some gentle surprises, too , like the shifting, ruminative chord changes of “Sheik’s Theme” or the bebop syncopation of “Gerudo Valley.” It’s good stuff!

Nice, GameChops insists the trio consists of Princess Keys (Zelda) on piano, Lincoln Beats (Link) on drums and G. Dorf (guess) on bass – as depicted in some charming illustrations by Riana Dorsey. In fact, the arrangements and piano performances are through Rob Araujo. Shake his (very relaxed) hand.