Takuya Kuroda

From Kobe, Japan comes Takuya Kuroda, a trumpeter who arrived with a splash a few years ago with Jose James’s band. He’s quickly shaping up as a creator of some of the most accessible yet complex jazz music of the time.

In his native Japan, Kuroda played with his older brother and in several big bands. He then moved to the United States in order to study at Berklee College of Music, where he met Jose James. The vocalist was taken by the trumpeter’s sound and asked him to record with him on his upcoming album, Blackmagic. They maintained a steady partnership, and James eventually  had Kuroda write the horn arrangements for his 2013 album No Beginning No End. The album was a critical success, and during the tour James agreed to produce Kuroda’s first album with Blue Note Records. The result, Rising Son (2014), is an interesting listen because Kuroda is actually leading James’s band; the latter steps down— he only appears on one track— and lets his trumpeting protegé shine.

The album itself is a worthy first outing on the legendary label. At James’s urging, Kuroda moves away from the straight ahead sound that dominated his earlier playing, and embraces a fuller, funky vibe. The strains of soul are also evident— the rhythm section’s introduction on “Piri Piri” sounds like it could have been taken from an extended solo break during a lost Erykah Badu session.

Listening to his album, you’d be comfortable calling it an Afrobeat-Jazz fusion record; the musical influences from Nigeria pervade the album’s groove, and Kuroda and his band don’t fumble the opportunity to deliver their take on the West African sound.

Jose James does manage to step away from the soundboard and grace the mic on their arrangement of the Roy Ayers classic “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”. The Ayers original remains iconic, but James and Kuroda slow it down just enough to give it an almost mystical quality. Kuroda’s solo is effortlessly cool but deceivingly calming. At points he’ll riff on a series of notes with a rising tension, only to bring it back home every time, ultimately easing us back into James unmistakable baritone.

from Emmanuel Garcia http://ift.tt/20evEHZ

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