New York has a secret...Takuya Kuroda is quietly going about the business of changing the harmonic landscape of the traditional jazz scene into a cutting edge mosaic of sound.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Many of you may already be familiar with Takuya's 2014 Blue Note debut, Rising Son. Six Aces is a quick look back at a remarkable 2012 release that clearly shows that Kuroda is far from a one hit wonder. The Takuya Kuroda sextet is a formidable collective of some of the A list talent that is ground zero for the Big Apple improvisational scene.
Many of Kuroda's contemporaries have made half assed attempts at merging a hip-hop rhythmic intensity with soul and a blues infused base to what is normally considered straight ahead or perhaps post bop jazz. Nicholas Payton tried and the crash and burn of the release Bitches was epic. Kuroda relies on talent, vision and a warm tone reminiscent of Chet Baker. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion if Baker were alive today then this might well be the same path his lyrical muse would have taken him.
The horn section goes full on with "Jafro" which is a hard bop workout featuring blistering work from Kuroda as well as tenor saxophonist Jaleel Sawyer and trombonist Corey King. A more elegant swing takes the spotlight as "Trunk Bay" dials back the intensity but not the improvisational spirit. "Six Aces' goes to the Jose James place of improvisational neo-soul and a righteous groove that pushes the release well past ordinary and into the extraordinary level of performances.
Takuya Kuroda would seem to be an artist comfortable in his own skin. Jazz has fallen on hard times perhaps not so much from a stagnant economy as a stagnant level of creativity from those blessed to be playing the best clubs for the best money. There is a new voice in modern jazz, Takuya Kuroda.
Tracks: Grappa; Jafro; Pepper Caramel; Trunk Bay; Red Corner; Bite Than Bark; Six Aces.