Monday 17 March 2014

March '14 purJAZZes

‘Rising Son’ by Takuya Kuroda [Blue Note Records]

Coming off an excellent 2013 with releases from Jose James, Gregory Porter and the Robert Glasper Experiment, Blue Note Records unveil their latest signee, trumpeter, Takuya Kuroda.  Currently wearing the label of “Jose James’s trumpeter”, Kuroda appears on several tracks from James’s ‘No Beginning No End’ album (that’s his masterful playing you’ll hear on ‘It’s All Over Your Body’ as well as on other songs), as well as having extensively toured with him subsequently – in fact, Kuroda brings practically all of Team Jose James along with him on ‘Rising Son’, including bassist, Solomon Dorsey (a star on the cusp of breaking out himself), and Kris Bowers on keys.  Jose James – who also serves as the album’s producer – lends vocal duties on a 9+ minute rendition of the Roy Ayers classic ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’.  [Trust me, if you had asked me a week ago whether the world needs to hear another cover of ‘…Sunshine’, or another song sampling it, I’d have said ‘No’, but this one really does deserve your time.]

Although they throw a healthy dose of afrobeat stylings into the mix, Kuroda and the gang do take a more classical and traditional approach to the jazz presented here – by no means a bad thing – but having seen them play together live (which was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen), there is a noticeable absence of energy that the album as a whole could have benefited from, and is probably more down tempo than it needs to be.  As I say, it’s still a beautiful listen with the aforementioned ‘…Sunshine’ serving as one of the album’s highlights, along with ‘Rising Son’, ‘Afro Blues’ and ‘Mala’ which is just loooooooovely.

‘Circles’ by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions [Victor Entertainment]

Why are Japan-only releases so unbelievably sexy?  They really are though! 

The wondrous Japanese marvel that are the Soil & "Pimp" Sessions return with their ninth album, ‘Circles’, which explodes with more energy than my headphones can contain – but would you expect anything less from the innovators of “Death Jazz”?!  “Death Jazz” is such an apt description for their blend of fiery drums, explosive horns and quick-fire keys and it’s a style that carries over to, pianist, Josei’s side-project, J.A.M.

Guests on ‘Circles’ include Miyavi, Rhymester, Ringo Sheena and also Blue-in-Green favourite, Jose James – whose inimitable style makes him as good a match for any type of jazz you can throw at him.  Although a fan of J.A.M. for many years, I'm embarrassed to say this is my very first S&"P"S CD, a statistic that's going to have change very soon.  Have a check out of the below for the brilliance I've been missing!

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