The Japan-born, New York native Takuya Kuroda released the fantastic Blue Note Records breakthrough Rising Son, his third solo record in two years, nearly six months ago, but it only just reached my ears three weeks ago. I chalk it up to divine intervention, because the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Last Saturday, Indie Current’s favorite neo-soul act, Gabriel Garzon-Montano, played an opening set at Glasslands Gallery for the night’s headling act Takuya Kuroda.
In my humble opinion, there couldn’t have been a better group than Gabriel Garzon-Montano‘s four-piece band to open for the salient, soul-stricken musings of Takuya Kuroda. With each subsequent gig, the band gets more dynamic, more succinct and confident in their abilities to push the limits of their sound. On “Pour Maman,” during the second verse, Montano accents the melody with one strange and deliriously unsyncopated chord. The extraneous embellishment, which doesn’t appear on the studio recording, lags the peripheral groove in a warm, satisfying way; made me feel a little buzzed just listening to it, trying to wrap my head around it. During the same surreptitious ballad, when the beat buckles down and a hollow silence replaces all the warbling sounds, it’s disrupted by the crass cawing of one Kendrick Lamar: a sample of him bellowing madly “YA, YA, YA, YA” on “m.A.A.d. city.” Gabriel Garzon-Montano injects a certain kind of kinetic energy into his music, a visual spectacle, an aural experience, that teeters upon restrained and composed to raucous and bestial. Every time I see Montano things get louder, bigger and better.
Takuya Kuroda took the stage a few minutes after the opening act. I could only stay for a handful of songs due to a prior commitment, but those few songs had me going. The music was simple, without vocals, and bandleader Kuroda spent a generous amount of the first two songs standing off to the side, nodding his head in that enraptured kind of way, letting his keyboardist and trombonist steal the spotlight. The performance was enthralling, moving, nothing less than absolutely beautiful.