The singer sits down with Popdust to discuss his new album, Jazz.
You may remember Casey Abrams from a string of impressive performances that landed him in sixth place on American Idol in 2011.
The 28-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist has a unique and powerful voice. On his upcoming album, backed by a band of very talented musicians, he's loans that voice to a selection of jazz and blues standards. The aptly titled LP, Jazz, has a little something for everyone among its 12 tracks—it's the perfect soundtrack for unwinding with a glass of wine. Abrams discussed his creative process, musical influences, and vision for this album in a recent interview with Popdust.
Jazz presents a collection of re-imagined classics. Artists often speak of the writing process, but what is your process for approaching a canonized song that has a long history of being redefined? In other words, are there any insights that you might be able to provide as to what you aim for in presenting your unique version of a song —how does the band come to striking a balance between a certain faithfulness to the original song while also putting your signature spin on it?
We are each unique artists, and when unique artists get together, I feel we create a fresh and unheard of jazz experience each time. For me, jazz is the harvesting of our own unique feelings and experiences, and together we create a completely new experience of the song. In a way, we're using the paints presented in the original artwork (the song) to color it in our own communal way.
Who are some jazz/blues musicians/songwriters of today that you really admire? How about non-jazz/blues?
I love Gretchen Parlato, Taylor Eigsti, Robert Glasper and Aubrey Logan. Non Jazz, I will always love the entire spirit and fun of Tenacious D.
What do you think drew you to jazz and blues music? Do you recall any sort of clear or definitive moment of discovering it, a 'love-at-first-listen' experience?
Early on, the first time I heard "Autumn Leaves" by Cannonball Adderly and Miles Davis. A ten-minute long jazz jam that really hypnotized me with its haunting harmony, melody, and solos. Like, there was so many kinds of expressions in that one version of one song. And, so, it's the first song I'm presenting here on my new Jazz Album.
What do you hope fans get out of Jazz?
For this CD in particular, I hope they kick back and listen to this record with the one they love, or they get to meditate to it by themselves after a long day at work. We wanted to create that kind of mood. I loved the collaboration with the great musicians on the CD that make these songs a richer, kind of contemplative experience.
Pre-order the album here!
Casey Abrams Jazz Album Trailer www.youtube.com
Dante Basco Talks About His New Role on "Artificial" and the New Frontier of Interactive Storytelling
Basco talks about his upcoming project and his status as an Asian-American icon, Rufio in "Hook."
Now in its third season, Artificial, the first live scripted audience-interactive sci-fi series on Twitch, has invited actor Dante Basco to be a guest star.
The plot of Artificial focuses on the challenges and consequences of humanizing a self-aware AI —reminiscent of the film Ex Machina, but with the interactivity of the Netflix series Bandersnatch. The episode structure pivots between two different formats: world-building episodes where the audience coordinates with the showrunner to determine what will happen next, followed by story episodes where their decisions are brought to life. A real AI component called LifeScore also changes the music of the show in real time based on the mood of the chatroom, adding an additional layer of interactivity to the experience.
Basco has been a fan of Artificial creator and showrunner Bernie Su's work for several years, and he closely followed his previous projects like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. Su was even featured as the keynote speaker at the February 2016 meeting of We Own the 8th, an arts collective founded by Basco to support and guide Asian American creatives. Both Basco and Su had been looking for an opportunity to collaborate for some time, but it wasn't until the pandemic that they finally got the chance to work together. When Su asked him if he would be interested in joining the third season—produced entirely remotely—Basco jumped at the opportunity.
The PlayStation 1 era of video games, lasting from 1995 until the PlayStation 2's release in 2000, was defined by its JRPGs.
Unlike most other genres of the era, Japanese role-playing games were largely story-based, weaving epic tales that proved video games could be more than just mindless diversions. Gameplay typically revolved around turn-based combat, relying more on tactics than hand-eye coordination. Due to their reliance on plot and menu-based mechanics, many JRPGs stand the test of time even after decades of graphical improvements. Let's take a look at nine of the best JRPGs that the PS1 had to offer.
Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8, and Final Fantasy 9<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTUyOTk2M30.e05q_Fr-JXf46sYXCv2P0gzFJ_PPmuqSIaxHG3-5Akg/img.jpg?width=980" id="dfc99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a3f28c9c4dec7e8fea12d81237bdfb0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Final Fantasy 7" />
Square Enix<p>Let's just get the obvious out of the way first. <em>Final Fantasy 7</em>, <em>Final Fantasy 8</em>, and <em>Final Fantasy 9</em> rank amongst the most beloved games history. <em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/how-final-fantasy-vii-remake-redefines-what-a-remake-can-be-2645973706.html" target="_blank">Final Fantasy 7</a> </em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/how-final-fantasy-vii-remake-redefines-what-a-remake-can-be-2645973706.html">redefined what a video game could be for an entire generation of gamers</a>, while <em>Final Fantasy 8 </em>and <em>Final Fantasy 9</em> took big risks, shifting their game mechanics enough to feel completely distinct from every other game that came before them and overshadowing pretty much every other game on the PS1. If you like video games in general, all three of these are must-plays. If you've already played them, they most likely rank amongst your favorites already.</p>
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTcxMTEzMX0.RHOv48sXCc4tJrqp190WdWdOSybNaTCo-eds-zLpcxA/img.jpg?width=980" id="378f9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1932ee8092fe2272ca693bf8319991d4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Lunar 2 Eternal Blue" />
Entertainment Software<p>Featuring fantastic character designs, full-blown anime cutscenes, and one of the best soundtracks in any video game ever, <em>Lunar 2: Eternal Blue </em>easily deserves far more recognition than it gets. <em>Lunar 2</em>'s gameplay is classic RPG perfection, with each party members' play style feeling incredibly distinct (one of them is a gambler, and his best move hinges on a dice roll). It also had a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Lunar-Eternal-Complete-Official-Strategy/dp/0966299337" target="_blank">gorgeous hardcover guidebook</a> that would run you a few hundred dollars if you were to buy it nowadays.</p>
The Legend of Dragoon<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTk1MzA5OH0.2mlVO0qY1KYgdCCqyl1zgkhgEsZ2OaMcKH1i9YF51cE/img.jpg?width=980" id="82d26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e102d36c0b23d3d3321496d73a1153dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Legend of Dragoon" />
Sony<p>Culturally eclipsed by the release of <em>Final Fantasy 8</em>, <em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/video-games-remakes-2646360023.html" target="_blank">Legend of Dragoon </a></em><a href="https://www.popdust.com/video-games-remakes-2646360023.html">never achieved the mainstream success of its contemporary</a>, but nevertheless picked up a cult following that sings the games praises even to this day. Alongside a great story, the best part about <em>Legend of Dragoon</em> was its Dragoon Transformation mechanic, whereby your characters could temporarily transform into legendary winged warriors with enhanced move-sets and powerful special attacks.</p>
Xenogears<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgyNy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Mzk1NTUzOX0.VqokfSxeeZ_nAtZWXgJSAXwd3tdE0iPXv9wkPte92NQ/img.png?width=980" id="d95b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="433b7414dcc9a4e392d26c5c0b4e8a45" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Xenogears" />
Square Enix<p><em>Xenogears </em>was the spiritual predecessor to the <em>Xenosaga </em>and <em>Xenoblade </em>games, meaning that it's all about two things: anime and robots. Okay, that's simplifying things a lot. In actuality, <em>Xenogears</em>' plot is amongst the deepest and most complex in any video game, even standing out amidst a genre that prioritizes storytelling. If you like great video game storytelling, there are few games that will ever even come close to <em>Xenogears</em>.<br></p>
Suikoden 2<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDc2OTMxMn0.Jfpuiv6GrqlYsj0O4QG-bAXgqhV7BjTM_LnlkilzbRw/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2c99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd841af76e17ce0d8d2759209b61900f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Suikoden 2" />
Konami<p>While <em>Suikoden 2 </em>didn't make a huge splash upon its release, many JRPG fans retrospectively consider it the single-best title of its era. The <em>Suikoden </em>franchise's big gimmick is that, instead of having a roster of five to 10 playable characters, your character roster clocks in at 108. <em>Suikoden 2 </em>makes great use of the variation in its characters, resulting in a game that can be played over and over again in countless different ways. The old-school, 32-bit graphics, which worked against it at the time of its release, have also served to make <em>Suikoden 2</em> game look a lot better than its 3D contemporaries all these years later. As a side note, if you like <em>Suikoden</em>, be sure to check out the <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rabbitandbearstudios/eiyuden-chronicle-hundred-heroes/description" target="_blank">Kickstarter for its spiritual successor,</a> <em><a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rabbitandbearstudios/eiyuden-chronicle-hundred-heroes/description">Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes</a></em>.</p>
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjgzNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjg2MzY3M30.J7NW173dRiHByU2pR8CpIuzmV0Dp0EIAa5wY5jjft1g/img.png?width=980" id="fa0bd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ec9fc90447cfff8b1dc940aabd48048" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Persona 2 eternal punishment" />
Atlus<p>Technically the third <em>Persona </em>title, <em>Persona 2: Eternal Punishment </em>is the sequel to <em>Persona 2: Innocent Sin</em>. <em></em><em>Eternal Punishment</em> improves upon its predecessor's unique gameplay mechanics, specifically the rumor-based system wherein rumors spread throughout the city, changing how your character interacts with other people. This would go on to heavily influence the mechanics of future <em>Persona </em>titles. And yet, unlike the later <em>Persona </em>games, <em>Eternal Punishment</em>'s deeply unsettling art style is still in the same vein of the series it spun off from—<a href="https://www.popdust.com/shin-megami-tensei-2646445668.html" target="_blank">Shin Megami Tensei</a>.<span></span></p>
Final Fantasy Tactics<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyNjg0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzg4ODc0NH0.CHSi48sL_MHNXOGzLKXUAlgarEWmrTPfPr8d8PfUhMM/img.jpg?width=980" id="f0688" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4b36f1c1829d0676b59995068ba6a181" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Final Fantasy Tactics" />
Square Enix<p>While traditional JRPG combat relies solely on menu-based battle options, Tactical RPGs add on grid-based positioning wherein your units must move around a battlefield in order to confront opponents. These games also typically feature perma-death mechanics, so if a unit dies, they die forever. There have been plenty of great Tactical RPGs over the years, but none have surpassed <em>Final Fantasy Tactics</em>, which boasts an incredible story <em>and </em>the single-coolest unit in any game of its genre—<a href="https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Cidolfus_Orlandeau" target="_blank">Thunder God Cid</a>.<em></em></p>