Jazz pianist Yasumasa Kumagai is on the leading edge of modern J Jazz. With a strong influence from jazz pianist Robert Glasper, a one-time teacher of Kumagai, the pianist creates fearless compositions with modern angles. His music is straight-ahead jazz rooted in tradition amidst elements of groovy gospel music, Latin flavors, and funky hip-hop.

An energetic and exciting piano jazz trio is on display here on J-Straight Ahead. Great compositions and an at-times edgy attitude belie a sensitive and deep sense of musicality. Kumagai’s piano solos often start simple and build with fiery drama while bassist Inoue and drummer Osaka stir up the boiling rhythms.

Aside from jazz recording and performances, Kumagai is quite active online with his newsletter, blog, and a popular YouTube channel with videos relating to J Jazz, jazz piano technique, and of course some of his live performances.

J-Straight Ahead was released in 2015 and is his fourth as a leader, following I Need a Change, Too (2008), Ol’School Jazz (2009), and Pray (2010).

J-Straight Ahead by Yasumasa Kumagai

Released in 2015 on Jazzy Bear Records as JZBR-0001.

Japanese Names: Yasumasa Kumagai 熊谷ヤスマサ Yosuke Inoue 井上陽介 Masahiko Osaka 大坂昌彦

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Jan 30, 2018 (Updated May 22, 2021)