Thanks to a solid base of Japanese fans, acid jazz will probably never go out of style. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t evolve. Lesser known than acts such as the late Nujabes, Cro-Magnon is a part of that genre’s evolution. The band is teaming up with hip-hop trio Gagle for a performance at Daikanyama Loop in Tokyo this weekend.
Cro-Magnon has been jamming worldwide for more than a decade. The three members — Shigekazu Otake (drums and percussion), Tsuyoshi Kosuga (guitar and bass) and Takumi Kaneko (keyboards) — formed the band after meeting in Boston in 1996. Their brand of jazz incorporates funk, electronic and hip-hop styles, but the band doesn’t usually provide their own vocals. Instead, the trio prefers to share the stage with artists from other genres to create a performance that might appear more like an impromptu jam session than a carefully rehearsed concert.
Signed with production company Jazzy Sport, which also supports Gagle, Cro-Magnon released its first “all-vocal” album last year featuring some talented guests such as Roy Ayers, Japanese vocalist Twigy and, of course, Gagle.
Gagle are a three-person crew consisting of DJs Mu-R and Mitsu the Beats, and MC Hunger. While Japan has seen its share of joke rappers over the years, Gagle is proof positive that the scene is indeed evolving in a positive direction.
Hunger’s lyrical flow in particular should be able to please both newcomers and seasoned hip-hop heads alike. His vocals never come off as overly punchy or forced yet still have the impact of a slam poet telling a story to a friend. Hunger’s collaborations with Yass the bassist from hip-hop/soul group Skidaround or Gagle’s work with J-pop singer Bonnie Pink provide a small taste of the diversity the trio is capable of.
Gagle and Cro-Magnon often perform at larger venues, but the Loop show will be a great chance to see them working together in a more intimate venue with an excellent sound system. The stage is big enough to support a full band and multiple vocalists but the space is cozy enough to feel like you’re as much a part of the show as you are an audience member.
Cro-Magnon and Gagle play Feb. 5 at Daikanyama Loop in Tokyo (Doors open at 5 p.m.; ¥3,000 in advance plus one drink at the door). For more information, call (03) 6277-5032 or visit www.cro-magnon.jp