Yasumasa Kumagai’s debut album from 2008, I Need A Change, Too, establishes his J Jazz hip hop concept with force: From the shocking pink cover art and the unexpected electronic soulful beats of the brief opening track “I.N.T.R.O.”, the album takes thrilling twists and turns through jazz laced with groove, centered on a powerfully soulful and vibrant modern jazz piano trio.
Fun and catchy but with a serious musical depth, the music covers both cool and bittersweet moods, at times evoking influences from Robert Glasper’s style of gospel-inspired hip-hop jazz. Kumagai’s songwriting skill and precision playing makes for a high-quality J Jazz album, full of soul and passion rooted in authentic jazz with ultra-modern sharpness.
Kumagai’s original songs fill the album, along with a cover of the R&B song “I Wanna Know” and a reworked version of Sonny Rollins’s “St. Thomas”, built on an extended tease vamp breaking into high-intensity jazz changes. Most of the songs feature the piano trio, with guest players including alto sax on two tracks, trumpet on one, and a duo track featuring piano with a talented beat box vocalist as well.
Leader: Yasumasa Kumagai · 熊谷ヤスマサ · http://yasumasakumagai.com/
- Yasumasa Kumagai – piano
- Koji Yasuda – bass
- Shunsuke Umino – drums
- Afra – human beatbox (#7)
- Shinobu Ishizaki – alto sax (#9, 13)
- Tabu Zombie – trumpet (#13)
Released in 2008 on Anturtle Tune as ANTX-4001.
* Audio sample at top of page from the title track “I Need A Change, Too”.