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Album Review

Takuya Kuroda's follow-up to his breakthrough 2014 album, Rising Son, 2016's colorful Zigzagger finds the trumpeter digging even deeper into his hip-hop and Afrobeat-influenced jazz sound. Whereas last time Kuroda benefitted from the production of one-time boss and collaborator/singer Jose James, here he mans the production chair himself. It's a bold, if natural choice for the Japan-born/New York-based performer and brings his journey from James' talented sideman to jazz star and captain of his own funk-jazz ship full-circle. Although steeped in acoustic jazz tradition, Kuroda (who studied at both Berklee and the New School) has gravitated toward more jam-oriented sounds in recent years. Blessed with a warm, robust trumpet sound and a knack for delivering lithe, soulful solos that bring to mind both Roy Hargrove and Hugh Masekela, Kuroda is truly a 21st century performer. Another shift from Rising Son is Kuroda's choice to use his longtime backing ensemble, featuring trombonist/vocalist Corey King, keyboardist Takeshi Ohbayashi, bassist Rashaan Carter, and drummer Adam Jackson. It's the same group that appeared on 2012's superb Six Aces, and lends this album a familiarity and interplay that only musicians who've played together for a long time have. Together, Kuroda and his band make a kinetic blend of harmonically rich jazz that's equal parts organic hip-hop, angular post-bop, and buoyant, rhythmically infectious Afro-beat. As if to reinforce the latter, Kuroda also brings on board longstanding New York Afro-beat ensemble Antibalas for the '90s trip-hop-meets-'70s Fela Kuti-sounding "Think Twice." Elsewhere, cuts like the title track, "R.S.B.D.," and "Actor" find Kuroda framing his searching trumpet lines in quivering R&B-style synths, laser-tone bass, and pulse-pounding beats pushed way to the front of the mix. Similarly, on tracks like the bass-heavy "No Sign" and the Maceo Parker-esque "Thirteen," he pulls the groove way back, underlining his hard funk aesthetic with puckered horn lines, loping drum beats, and shimmering wet keyboards. He even takes an inventive approach to jazz balladry, bringing to mind the '70s work of trumpeter Eddie Henderson on his fractured, languidly melodic "Little Words." As the title implies, with Zigzagger, Kuroda continues to push his distinctive jazz-funk explorations in ever more engaging and unexpected directions.

Customer Reviews


Excited about this one.

Amazing album

A brilliant album! Takuya is precious for todays jazz music and culture! Keep listen :)

Drum Machine Issues

This is my second purchase from this artist. Love his playing and the direction he's headed. My only quirk is the drum machine programming is bad. I know he was trying to save money during the recording process but, get a real drummer to program it if you wont use a real drummer for the recording. Last quirk, use a better quality machine. The cymbal crashes sound early eightyish. Maybe thats the sound he was looking for... Naw... get a real drummer the next time.


Born: February 21, 1980 in Kobe, Japan

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '10s

Jazz trumpeter Takuya Kuroda is a forward-thinking musician with a bent toward mixing post-bop and adventurous soul-jazz. Born in Kobe, Japan, Kuroda followed his older trombonist brother into the local music scene, playing in big bands. After studying music in Japan, Kuroda relocated to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, Kuroda befriended upcoming jazz vocalist José James, who invited Kuroda to record with him. Kuroda appeared on James' 2010 sophomore album, Blackmagic,...
Full Bio
Zigzagger, Takuya Kuroda
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Customer Ratings