Album of the Week // 12–16 October
Takuya Kuroda — Fly Moon Die Soon [First Word Records]
Takuya Kuroda is a highly-respected trumpeter born in Kobe, Japan. His unique hybrid sound, with influences from soulful jazz, funk, postbop, 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 and contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he completed in the mid-00s. 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. 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 fifth album Zigzagger on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalas on a reimagining of the Donald Byrd classic ‘Think Twice’.
In late summer this year, Takuya Kuroda returned 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 spiritual to vulgar. It took two years to make this album. In 2018, I decided I just couldn’t make albums the same way I had in the past anymore.
As a birthday treat to myself, I booked a studio in Brooklyn for two days, with only myself and 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 excellent tracks. The uptempo jazz-funk of ‘ABC’ and ‘Moody’ sit alongside soulful jazz cuts like ‘Fade’ and ‘CHANGE’, 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’), closing with the epic ‘TKBK’.
Fly Moon Die Soon was released on Worldwide FM Award-winning, UK label First Word Records in September 2020. Tune in to Morning Mari* this week to hear more!