Cliff Colón | Saxophonist


Performing the music from the 1980′s side-scrolling,
run & gun, 8-bit video game called “Contra.



Since the beginning of jazz, musicians have reworked songs familiar to nonjazz listeners and made them their own. Music from pop tunes, movie soundtracks and Broadway shows have been arranged and performed in a jazz format.

In honor of this tradition, tenor saxophonist Cliff Colón has created the album “ContraBand”, which contains jazz arrangements of the popular music from his youth, “video games”. In this case, the music is from the 1980′s side-scrolling, run & gun, 8-bit video game called Contra. Each track on the recording is Colón’s arrangement of the music of Contra, originally composed by Kyouhei Sada and Hidenori Maezawa from Konami Corporation (1988). The songs chronical each level (or stage) of the game, in sequential order. Colón has kept the melody, harmony lines, and overall feel of the compositions true to their original MIDI form, while still opening up the songs with jazz chord progressions to allow for improvised solos.

On the debut album “ContraBand”, tenor saxophonist Cliff Colón performs alongside fellow Seattle musicians J. Charles on alto saxophone, Frank Seeberger on guitar, Eric Verlinde on rhodes, Chuck Kistler on bass and D’Vonne Lewis on drums.



(All ContraBand photos are provided by Steve Sarandos)




“Every song and arrangement on ContraBand is a hit. The arrangements are full of seriously hot unison and harmony lines that will make your ears smoke. Every solo sits perfectly in its environment, and all of the music is accessible to jazz aficionados and those just finding jazz. I highly recommend you check out ContraBand for yourself.”
Jazz Profile Magazine

“ContraBand could have easily been tossed aside as a gimmicky recording, but the quality of the arrangements and the talent of Colon’s outfit turns the Konami video game soundtrack into a piece that really, really works. It is strong, satisfying music with flavour, edge, and tension.”
Jordan Richardson – Blog Critics Magazine

“…the music from his album Contraband is startling effective in touching people‘s senses. The music will most certainly influence your mood and covet your senses in harmonious swirls. I suppose the experience is something like playing a videogame where all of your senses are engaged in the game. Colon’s offering Contraband is actually able to stand on its own as a form of contemporary jazz that affects people’s senses in an inviting way.”
Susan Frances –

“The music is inspired and modern-sounding from start to finish… ContraBand comes out wailing — first-rate jazz”.
Dan McClenaghan –

“…you don’t have to know the game Contra to enjoy the “ContraBand” music. Colon and his cohorts have crafted a novel album that can be enjoyed on several levels.”
Rick Nelson – The Tacoma News Tribune

“Hat’s off to Colon for bringing fresh sources of material to a straight-ahead situation.”
John Barron –

“Cliff, I have just listened to your CD “ContraBand” and I am still running to catch up! Hey wait for us, man you guys jump right in and go for it, totally uncompromising at all. The sound is just sooooo good. Riff upon riff, solo upon solo each intrinsically linded in to a maelstrom of Jazz. The concept of a Japanese video game says to me there is a definite reason for some of this inaneness. Whatever it is we love it, from start to finish every track was a masterpiece of wild sensual Jazz. The arrangements are absolutely marvellous indeed but man the musicianship is outstanding and a joy to listen to. Do I have a down side…yes I do! I wanted more!! Chis congratulations seem hardly enough to an artist when we are privileged to hear music of this quality and calibre. Congratulations on a wonderful CD.”
Peter Merrett – Music Manager, PBS 106.7 FM, Australia


(All ContraBand photos are provided by Steve Sarandos)