Born in Kobe, Japan trumpet player and leader Takuya Kuroda picked an ensemble of brilliant musicians to make Rising Son. Kuroda is the Trumpeter Medeski, Martin and Woods should have included in their line up. Blue Note’s Rising Son is the fourth he has been Kuroda involved in. It comprises a sophisticated and refined set of enticing tunes that turn from heavy jazz funk into something African, and hip hop and many other styles. Innovative rhythms are the main forté of the mighty talented quintet and the many musical collaborators and partners who helped to make the album. They include Kris Bowers (keyboards), Solomon Dorsey (bass), Corey King (trombone) and Nate Smith (drums). They produce a confident, creative and original sound that is essentially an amalgam of hip hop and jazz.
Kuroda’s trumpet pays homage to the jazz of the seventies while evoking the sound of the fifties. He is as much a Freddie Hubbard as a Lee Morgan. Kuroda has had an interesting musical voyage, his trombone playing brother was his inspiration and he followed him into playing with a big band. When he finished his music studies in Japan he migrated to Boston where his career took off. On this his second album as leader Kuroda makes a statement about the future of jazz at the same time as paying homage to its past. More importantly this album does something that few others can, it makes the cerebral sound emotional and spontaneous, it makes the well practiced sounds like a variation on a theme.
The piece that makes this most obvious is a homage to Roy Ayres’ ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ that is punctuated throughout by brilliant musicianship, the result is one of the most incredibly funky tracks I have heard in a very long time. It is hip hop based but still jazz. This is African drumming playing soul music. It is the best ever CTI album that was never made and it is a delight to listen to for the 10th time. From the first note to the last it is one of the most refreshing and exuberant albums of recent times. Even the quality of the recording which sadly is somewhere between lamentable and average can’t put a dent in my enthusiasm. It’s very hard to place a one track above the rest but this is certainly one the best albums I have heard this year.