FLY MOON DIE SOON (2020)
A highly-respected trumpeter born in Kobe, Japan, Takuya is a forward-thinking musician that has developed a unique hybrid sound, blending soulful jazz, funk, post-bop, fusion and hip hop music.
After following the footsteps of his trombonist brother playing in big bands, he relocated to New York to study jazz & contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he graduated from in the mid-noughties. It was here that Takuya met vocalist José James, with whom he worked on the ‘Blackmagic’ and ‘No Beginning No End’ projects.
Following graduation, Takuya established himself further in the NYC jazz scene, performing with the likes of Akoya Afrobeat and in recent years with DJ Premier’s BADDER band (also including acclaimed bass player, Brady Watt). Premier said “The BADDER Band project was put together by my manager, and an agent I’ve known since the beginning of my Gang Starr career. He said, ‘What if you put a band together that revolved around a trumpet player from Japan named Takuya Kuroda? He’s got a hip-hop perspective and respect in the jazz field…”
Takuya Kuroda is already incredibly prolific, releasing five albums in the past decade and fortifying a solid reputation in the global jazz scene. 2011 saw the release of Takuya’s independently-produced debut album, ‘Edge’, followed by ‘Bitter and High’ the following year and ‘Six Aces’ on P-Vine in 2013. Takuya was signed to the legendary Blue Note Records in 2014 for his album ‘Rising Son’, as well as appearing on their 2019 cover versions project, ‘Blue Note Voyage’. He released his 5th album ‘Zigzagger’ on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalas on a reimagining of the Donald Byrd classic ‘Think Twice’.
Late Summer 2020, Takuya Kuroda returns with his sixth album ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’.
In his words, “this album is about the irony between the greatness of nature and the beautiful obsceneness of humanity. Melodies and grooves fly back and forth from being spiritual to being vulgar.”
It took two years to make this album. In 2018, I decided I just couldn’t make albums the same way I had been in the past anymore. As a birthday treat to myself, I booked a studio in Brooklyn for two days, with only myself and an engineer, Todd Carder. I brought along some tracks I’d been building at home to see if we could complete them within that time. We began replacing sounds and adding texture, sampling noises from all over the studio; me sipping coffee, hitting a 26” kick drum, speeding up snares. At the end of the two days we were like “wow, I didn’t know we could make tracks this good in this way”. This is how the process of the full album started. Everything was based on my beats I made at home, inviting musicians in one by one, adding or replacing parts. I was very careful when developing these tracks; just note by note, part by part. I wanted to make the music effectively from a blend of two different recording methods; one very slickly produced part and one very organic part played by live musicians. I remember mixtapes from when I was kid, and wanted to make an album that wasn’t just a bunch of flashy singles, trying to catch people’s attention in the first 30 seconds, or full of guest features. Instead, I’m essentially just trying to let the grooves breath.”
The album consists of nine tracks of excellence. The uptempo jazz-funk of ‘ABC’ and ‘Moody’ sit alongside soulful jazz cuts like ‘Fade’ and ‘Change’, also featuring Corey King on vocals. The title track is a downtempo groove lead by a heavy Moog bassline, whilst ‘Do No Why’ contains an infectious piano riff throughout. Aside from Takuya’s original compositions, he revisits two classics from Ohio Players (’Sweet Sticky Thing’ featuring Alina Engibaryan on vocals) and Herbie Hancock (‘Tell Me A Bedtime Story’) whilst the album closes with the epic ‘TKBK’.
Takuya Kuroda is a truly unique talent, and this album is a realisation of the evolution of his sound.
“Fly Moon” is the greatness of nature. “Die soon“ is Humans (whose lives are shorter, compared to that of nature). It’s my appreciation of nature, humans, and of my own life that brought this idea into my mind. It comes from an experience I had about a year and a half ago, during a trip to Death Valley for a photoshoot. That night, I saw a huge golden moon and stars in the desert sky. It was the most magnificent scenery I had ever seen in my life. I was feeling nice and tipsy underneath all of that natural beauty. Looking up at that golden moon, I thought, I have to keep doing what I want to do. Special thanks to my man Hiroyuki Seo, who made the special album cover, based on the color of the gold. (Takuya Kuroda)
‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ is released on First Word Records on vinyl & digital in September 2020.
ZIG-ZAGS BETWEEN POST-BOP, NEO-SOUL, HIP-HOP AND ELECTRONICA
The Japanese-born trumpet player makes his Concord Records debut with the wildly diverse and infectiously funky Zigzagger
For Immediate Release – Whether moving from Japan to the U.S. or navigating between the influences of jazz, soul, hip-hop, Afrobeat and electronica, trumpeter/composer Takuya Kuroda has never followed a straight path. On his fifth studio album and Concord Records debut, the aptly named Zigzagger, Kuroda darts between those wide-ranging interests with a funky swagger and an intensely swinging vigor. The deeply infectious album, due out October 7, 2016, finds the trumpeter snaking his way around the opposing poles of acoustic and electric, bristling grooves and blissed-out vibes, punchy brass and fluid synths, carving his own distinctive sonic path along the way.
“Life is sometimes not that easy, sometimes not so difficult, and it should never go straight,” Kuroda says. “It’s always zigzagging. So I put i
my soul and spirit into that word.”
Though it wasn’t intentional on Kuroda’s part, the title also can’t help but evoke The Sidewinder, Lee Morgan’s 1964 that became one of the foundation stones of the then-burgeoning soul jazz style. Morgan has been a major influence on Kuroda as a player and as a conceptualist, and with Zigzagger the 36-year old trumpeter offers his own take on the state of the soul jazz art more than half a century later. His version takes into account the electronic innovations of artists like Flying Lotus and J Dilla, but the window-rattling funk and soul-stirring groove forcefully carry on the tradition.
Kuroda’s vision is realized with the help of his regular working band, most of them friends and collaborators for more than a decade since they were students together at New York City’s New School. They include trombonist Corey King, who also shows off his vocal chops on the simmering neo-soul tune “Do They Know;” bassist Rashaan Carter; drummer and percussionist Adam Jackson; and the band’s newest addition, keyboardist Takeshi Ohbayashi, who joined up in 2011. Three tracks bolster the band with master percussionist Keita Ogawa, who first crossed paths with Kuroda 20 years at jam sessions in their native Japan. Album closer “Think Twice” features the electrifying sounds of the popular Brooklyn Afrobeat band Antibalas.
Produced by Kuroda himself, Zigzagger is more purely an expression of his own distinctive approach. It maintains the unified style and infectious grooves of his earlier work, but mixes things up with more eclectic, shifting inspirations and perspectives. “When I write music I see a lot of elements and put them in different places, with different angles, a lot of counterpoint and strong melodies,” Kuroda explains. “It’s always easy to sing to, but has something like advanced changes underneath, kind of hidden so that people don’t get confused by the difficult elements. But it’s there. Musicians always tell me my music is easy to listen to but difficult to play.”
Ohbayashi’s burbling, singing keyboards open the album on “R.S.B.D.,” soon punctuated by Jackson’s forceful, driving rhythms before Kuroda and King burst in with the piquant horn melody. Electronica influences invade midway through the track, with post-production elements including sound effects and wordless vocals transforming the sound from the organic to the constructed, a dichotomy captured by the mash-up title, which stands for “Red Spade Black Diamond.”
The title track is built on the Afrobeat sounds that have become a key part of Kuroda’s music since he began working with the New York-based band Akoya Afrobeat nearly a decade ago. That sound recurs in full flourish when Antibalas joins on the Fela Kuti-inspired “Think Twice” Both show off Kuroda’s gift for combining spiky jazz melodies with buoyant, compelling rhythms.
The title of “I Don’t Remember How It Began” tells the story of its own creation, which began as a heavily electronic Flying Lotus-inspired piece that leaned in a much more straightahead jazz direction once the band got a hold of it. The name also captures the sensation of getting lost in a powerhouse groove, so transporting that it’s hard to recall where it came from, as the band does in the second half of the cut.
Late, lamented hip-hop super-producer J Dilla is an obvious influence on “No Sign,” with its dragging, attitude-laden beat, while a more recent loss is called to mind in the sultry, clever funkiness of the Prince-evoking “Thirteen.” Kuroda’s vulnerability shows in his playing on “Little Words,” which suggests that deep meaning can be found in terse, tough phrases. Finally, both the hip-hop driven “Actors” and the densely layered “Good Day Bad Habit” feature the dazzling percussion of Keita Ogawa. Both were originally written on Kuroda’s computer, with percussive sounds that he expected to be impossible to replicate in the studio. “Ogawa showed up with probably 50 percussion instruments and recreated all these impossible sounds with acoustic instruments,” Kuroda recalls. “He’s a crazy guy.”
Zigzagger is the latest stop along a serpentine path that began in Kobe, Japan, where Kuroda followed his trombonist brother into the local music scene. He moved to the U.S. to study and graduated from the New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music program in 2006. It was during his time at New School that Kuroda befriended José James, appearing on two of the singer’s albums and writing horn arrangements for his breakthrough album, 2013’s No Beginning No End.
James returned the favor by producing Kuroda’s 2014 Blue Note release Rising Son. That album followed three earlier independent releases, Bitter and High in 2006, Edge in 2011 and Six Aces in 2012. He’s become an active member of the diverse and vibrant NYC jazz scene, playing with the likes of José James, Akoya Afrobeat, Jesse Fischer(changed), and others. Crossing into the world of hip-hop, he’s been playing with and writing arrangements for the legendary DJ Premier, half of the ground-breaking duo Gang Starr.
3. I Don’t Remember How It Began
4. No Sign
5. Do They Know
7. Little Words
9. Good Day Bad Habit
10. Think Twice
Online Media Kit:
Mike Wilpizeski at 718-459-2117