Takehiro Honda

What's Going On

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Recorded in the U.S. with arranger Teddy Adams, What's Going On embraces in full the American influences that shape it -- the polemical R&B of James Brown and Marvin Gaye looms heavy via covers of "Ain't It Funky Now" and the title cut, while the sound and sensibility clearly draw from West coast soul-jazz innovators like Les McCann and Gerald Wilson. But the curiosity and estrangement inherent in the album's stranger-in-a-strange-land origins are in fact its dominant element: Takehiro Honda doesn't simply channel his myriad influences, he also dissects them, taking them apart and putting them back together to understand how they work. The result is a wonderfully eccentric and heartfelt interpretation of American funk rendered in distinctly Japanese terms -- studious but a bit goofy, formal yet passionately groovy.

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