Fly Moon Die Soon (First Word Records)

Takuya Kuroda

Released September 18, 2020

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2020

JAZZ FM 25 Best Jazz Albums of 2020




A highly-respected trumpeter born in Kobe, Japan, Takuya Kuroda is a forward-thinking musician that has developed a unique hybrid sound, blending soulful jazz, funk, post-bop, fusion and hip hop music.
After following the footsteps of his trombonist brother playing in big bands, he relocated to New York to study jazz & contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he graduated from in the mid-noughties. It was here that Takuya met vocalist José James, with whom he worked on the ‘Blackmagic’ and ‘No Beginning No End’ projects.
Following graduation, Takuya established himself further in the NYC jazz scene, performing with the likes of Akoya Afrobeat and in recent years with DJ Premier’s BADDER band (also including acclaimed bass player, Brady Watt). Premier said “The BADDER Band project was put together by my manager, and an agent I’ve known since the beginning of my Gang Starr career. He said, ‘What if you put a band together that revolved around a trumpet player from Japan named Takuya Kuroda? He’s got a hip-hop perspective and respect in the jazz field…”
Takuya Kuroda is already incredibly prolific, releasing five albums in the past decade and fortifying a solid reputation in the global jazz scene. 2011 saw the release of Takuya’s independently-produced debut album, ‘Edge’, followed by ‘Bitter and High’ the following year and ‘Six Aces’ on P-Vine in 2013. Takuya was signed to the legendary Blue Note Records in 2014 for his album ‘Rising Son’, as well as appearing on their 2019 cover versions project, ‘Blue Note Voyage’. He released his 5th album ‘Zigzagger’ on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalas on a reimagining of the Donald Byrd classic ‘Think Twice’.
Late Summer 2020, Takuya Kuroda returns with his sixth album ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’.
In his words, “this album is about the irony between the greatness of nature and the beautiful obsceneness of humanity. Melodies and grooves fly back and forth from being spiritual to being vulgar.”
It took two years to make this album. In 2018, I decided I just couldn’t make albums the same way I had been in the past anymore. As a birthday treat to myself, I booked a studio in Brooklyn for two days, with only myself and an engineer, Todd Carder. I brought along some tracks I’d been building at home to see if we could complete them within that time. We began replacing sounds and adding texture, sampling noises from all over the studio; me sipping coffee, hitting a 26″ kick drum, speeding up snares. At the end of the two days we were like “wow, I didn’t know we could make tracks this good in this way”. This is how the process of the full album started. Everything was based on my beats I made at home, inviting musicians in one by one, adding or replacing parts. I was very careful when developing these tracks; just note by note, part by part. I wanted to make the music effectively from a blend of two different recording methods; one very slickly produced part and one very organic part played by live musicians. I remember mixtapes from when I was kid, and wanted to make an album that wasn’t just a bunch of flashy singles, trying to catch people’s attention in the first 30 seconds, or full of guest features. Instead, I’m essentially just trying to let the grooves breath.”
The album consists of nine tracks of excellence. The uptempo jazz-funk of ‘ABC’ and ‘Moody’ sit alongside soulful jazz cuts like ‘Fade’ and ‘CHANGE’, also featuring Corey King on vocals. The title track is a downtempo groove lead by a heavy Moog bassline, whilst ‘Do No Why’ contains an infectious piano riff throughout. Aside from Takuya’s original compositions, he revisits two classics from Ohio Players (‘Sweet Sticky Thing’ featuring Alina Engibaryan on vocals) and Herbie Hancock (‘Tell Me A Bedtime Story’) whilst the album closes with the epic ‘TKBK’.
Takuya Kuroda is a truly unique talent, and this album is a realisation of the evolution of his sound. 

Track Listing:

1. Fade 03:56

2. ABC 06:03

3. Change 05:54

4. Do No Why 04:12

5. Fly Moon Die Soon 05:24

6. Moody 06:28

7. Sweet Sticky Things 04:52

8. Tell Me A Bedtime Story 06:21

9. TKBK 05:29


Takuya Kuroda: trumpet, beats (1, 3, 4, 5), synthesizer (1, 4), Fender Rhodes (1, 4, 5), keyboards (3, 8), vocals (4, 5), flugelhorn (5, 8), percussion (8)

Rashaan Carter: bass (1, 2, 7)

Solomon Dorsey: bass (3)

Burniss Earl Travis II: bass (6, 8)

Todd Carder: bass (9)

Yasushi Nakamura: bass (9)

Adam Jackson: drums (1-2, 4-9)

Zach Mullings: drums (3)

Chris McCarthy: keyboards (1, 5, 9)

Takahiro Izumikawa: keyboards (2, 4, 5, 7, 9)

Takeshi Ohbayashi: keyboards (1, 3-9)

Craig Hill: tenor saxophone (1-2, 9)

Tomoaki Baba: tenor saxophone (1)

Corey King: trombone (1, 4-6, 9), vocals (1, 3, 4)

Saotoshi Yoshida: guitar (2)

Ryo Ogihara: guitar (3, 6)

Keita Ogawa: percussion (2, 5, 6, 8)

Manami Kanudo: voice (5)

Alina Engibaryan: vocals (7)

Paola Arcieri: vocals (9)

Producer: Takuya Kuroda

Recorded by Todd Carder and Jaclyn Sanchez (2, 7)

Mixing: Todd Carder

Mastering: Alex DeTurk

Photography: Hiroyuki Seo

Sleeve Design: Matt Bailey


Brooklyn-based Japanese jazz trumpeter Takuya Kuroda further expands his funky, cross-pollinated sound on his vibrant sixth album, 2020’s Fly Moon Die Soon. Recorded in Brooklyn with producer Todd Carder, the album finds Kuroda crafting more of his fluidly atmospheric and textural, groove-based songs. It’s a style he has explored since his dynamic Blue Note debut, 2014’s Jose James-produced Rising Son, and one that he brought to a new heights on 2016’s Zigzagger, combining elements of hip-hop, neo-soul, Afro-beat, and hard-charging post-bop jazz improvisation. However, where Rising Son and Zigzagger showcased Kuroda’s organic, live jazz roots, on Fly Moon Die Soon he takes a more studio-oriented approach, crafting tracks bit by bit in the way a hip-hop or pop maverick might, leaving just enough room for his harmonically rich and agile trumpet solos to breathe. Joining him again are many of his Zigzagger bandmates, including guest vocalist Corey King, pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi, bassist Rashaan Carter, percussionist Adam Jackson, and drummer Keita Ogawa. There’s a kaleidoscopic vibe to many of Kuroda’s songs as he takes disparate elements, including harmonized trumpet melodies, synthesizer chord patterns, serpentine bass lines, and refracted percussion rhythms, then filters it all through a computerized studio blender before reshaping it into its final form. It’s a sound that has its origins in the ’70s fusion of Miles Davis and Donald Byrd, and has contemporary allies in the work of artists like Christian Scott, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat. Cuts like “Moody” and “Fade” are languid soul numbers that evoke the club-influenced trip-hop and acid-jazz of the ’90s. Elsewhere, Kuroda takes a more athletic approach, drawing upon kinetic, guitar-based Afro-beat on “ABC” and combining a minor-key, late-’60s hard bop melody with a flamenco-funk pattern on “Do No Why.” He also offers a slow jam R&B-take on the Ohio Players’ “Sweet Sticky Things” featuring singer Alina Engibaryan, and dips into sparkling crossover jazz on “Tell Me a Bedtime Story.” Throughout, Kuroda shines as a soloist, his fat, clipped trumpet tone bringing to mind a mix of Freddie Hubbard and Roy Hargrove. While vintage ’70s and early-’80s jazz-funk aesthetics are at the core of Kuroda’s sound, Fly Moon Die Soon never sounds retro and often feels less like a jazz album and more like a hip-hop or electronic artist’s conception of a jazz album. Of course, that hybridized quality speaks to Kuroda’s alchemic appreciation for music that goes far beyond the edges of the jazz tradition.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)