TAKUYA KURODA — Fly Moon Die Soon (review)

TAKUYA KURODA — Fly Moon Die Soon album cover Album · 2020 · RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Japanese jazz is traditionally accepted as an unorthodox deviation from predominantly Western (or being more precise - Western of African roots) genre. Still fans familiar with at least some of the Japanese scene know that there was an extremely creative period of time there lasting from the end of 60s and up to mid 70s, which gave to the international jazz world such artists as pianists Yosuke Yamashita, Masahiko Satoh or sax player Akira Sakata among others. Still, from the late 70s partially influenced by the wave of fusion popularity, Japanese jazz for decades became better known by its quantity than quality.

There are a few name players of world level there on the Japanese scene, incl. Satoko Fujii, fusion pianist Hiromi and still active Akira Sakata among others, but they are shamefully rare for one of the world's biggest jazz lover nations. And even more rare are brighter jazz artists coming from a younger generation.

With "Fly Moon Die Soon" Kobe-born forty year old trumpeter Takuya Kuroda makes a serious request to the A-list. New York-based from early 00'. Kuroda already released five albums before playing music ranging from hard bop to funk jazz and electronics. On "Fly Moon..." he brings all of his influences together mixing them in one stylish cocktail of old and new without plagiarism.

From the very first second of album's opener "Fade", the listener is invited to dreamy neo-soul with flying soloing trumpet and Corey King's vocals. Richly arranged and instrumented piece sounds as you're in 70s and in today's world at once."ABC" with horn section, African rhythms and funky groove is again something what comes from Earth Wind & Fire golden era, or today's vibrant London scenes.

Many pieces are funky, but not physically deep, more flat and electronically danceable, but that more modern sound is heavily influenced by the Moog, not 21st century electronics. Ohio Players "Sweet Sticky Thing" cover (with Russia-born singer Alina Engibaryan) sounds as brass-decorated pop-soul song. Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me a Bedtime Story", coming right after, will remind you the fusion of the late 60s and Miles Davis.

Title track is more nowadays music, with electronic rhythms, neo-soul vocals and Kuroda soloing trumpet over it. Being very versatile in genres, this album doesn't sound as an overly eclectic collection at all. Kuroda successfully mixes different influences to new music with respect to tradition and a touch of modernity. This album is for a much wider circle of listeners than just regular jazz fans, and one of the rare great releases from today's Japanese jazz.

* UK vinyl edition, released month or so later after original Japanese release contains one song less comparing with the Japan edition.
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