Takuya Kuroda ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ LP (First Word) 5/5

‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ is the new album from New York-based trumpeter, Takuya Kuroda. For the staggering achievement of his sixth album, Kuroda now finds himself partnered with the fantastic First Word Records – home to such varied and indelible talents including Children of Zeus, Kaidi Tatham and Ross McHenry, and now home to one of the most revered trumpeters working today.

With his extensive partnership with José James going on to expose Kuroda to whole new audiences – with their first recordings dating back to James’s sophomore album ‘Blackmagic’ in 2010 – Kuroda’s versatile and expansive pool of inspiration has seen him featured as a key component for several projects. Work as a part of Team José James aside, for now, Kuroda has also performed as part of the legendary DJ Premier’s Badder Band which also saw extensive touring, as well as his work on Japanese vocalist Nia’s self-titled album released through Ropeadope Records which saw Kuroda helm the production on surely one of his most under-rated projects.

While perhaps best cited as a jazz artist, Kuroda’s sensibilities have always extended far further with afrobeat forming such a huge part of his musical makeup. From having performed with Akoya Afrobeat and having secured the revered Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra for a track on his ‘Zigzagger’ album (Concord Records, 2016), Kuroda’s affection for the genre has always permeated into his own compositions so it’s particularly exciting that ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ continues that tradition but still finds itself celebrating other styles throughout.

Vocalist Corey King, who appears on album opener ‘Fade’ and the project’s lead single ‘Change’, helps lead the charge for exciting new sonic explorations perhaps best not so synonymous with Kuroda’s music up to this point. Over the course of the nine tracks presented here, ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ really affords Kuroda the opportunity to bask within these genuinely luxurious slices of cosmic soul – an aesthetic further developed by the K15 and Earl Jeffers remix (under the guise of “Kearl”) of ‘Fade’ released late-August. ‘ABC’ potentially serves as the album’s greatest excursion into the aforementioned realms of afrobeat while the album’s title track once again finds itself comfortably finding its footing within these seemingly disparate genres that beautifully bind jazz, to afrobeat, to ethereal soul.

Always one to tip his proverbial hat towards his heroes, as he has in the past through his covers of Donald Byrd’s ‘Think Twice’ (‘Zigzagger’) and his inspired nine-minute rendition of Roy Ayers’ ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ featuring José James (‘Rising Son’, Blue Note, 2014), here, we see Kuroda tackle the Ohio Players through his cover of ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’ which boasts an excellent guest vocal from Alina Engibaryan, and Herbie Hancock’s ‘Tell Me A Bedtime Story’.

‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ marks a thrilling new direction for Takuya Kuroda who has created an album that brings to the table all the styles he has been celebrated for throughout his career but, through First Word Records, is able to find exciting new ways to build upon his already eclectic musical legacy.

Imran Mirza