Artist: Takuya Kuroda
Label: Concord Music Group
Release Date: 10/07/2016
Takuya Kuroda doesn’t seem content to play in just one sandbox. The title, Zigzagger, hints that we’re dealing with an unrelentingly restless spirit here, and his fifth album backs it up by borrowing from the past, looking to the future and never being shy to bring out the noise and the funk. It offers a fresh, hip kind of urban jambalaya that comes out as loud and colorful as its cover.
The album benefits from a cooking-hot band of friends and neighbors, all sharing his freewheeling spirit and open to anything: they’re equally happy dabbling in smooth jazz, hip-hop and dance-club electronics. The tracks tend to match up things that complement each other well: ‘60s soul and ‘70s fusion, groovy N’Yawk horns with wah-wah bass, programmed beats under urban R&B. Brooklyn’s Afrobeat outfit, Antibalas, drops in to add words and fuzzy synth to the closer “Think Twice,” sounding vaguely like Bob Marley mashed up with Down to the Bone. Whatever the mix, they keep a steady rhythmic pulse that never lets up from start to finish.
Kuroda steps in front with the occasional spry and bouncy solo, but the affair mostly revolves around the fun and joy the band creates as a whole. If there’s one complaint to make, it’s the mostly static quality of the beats; more live organic drumming could make the rhythm truly irresistible. Still it’s not really reason to nitpick; Zigzagger brings a bright world-encompassing dance party with fun to spare.