Kagero - Gumbo Du Jour
Besides maybe pad thai, I don't think there's a dish I've eaten with more variations than gumbo. Depending on where you are, the ingredients can differ wildly, but that's what's great and unique about it - An adventure for the palate, every time. My latest music pilgrimage is from a self-proclaimed "Japanese Gypsy rock band" out of the New York metropolitan area with a new album called Gumbo du jour. Kagero have cooked up a real hodgepodge of styles and influences, seasoned generously with Middle Eastern spices, and stirred to perfection by an Oriental frontman who doesn't sound anything like he looks. Exotic for sure. Vocalist Kaz Fujimoto is a multi-instrumental, multicultural Whirling Dervish who is apparently quite fond of Guinness beer. We all know "fusion" is a common term in cuisine these days; what Kagero in their kitchen does is much more...impactful, real "when words collide" stuff, but in a deliciously awesome way.
The gumbo of which Kaz and Kagero sing about is made in a ridiculously tall melting pot. One that is chock full of rhythms from pungent ingredients like lively fiddles and accordions, beautiful Spanish guitars and pianos, as well as brassy horns layered over a voice that is both timelessly classic and indie cosmopolitan. Kaz isn't also above the occasional rap or even scat. "Life's a Thrill", which you can download for free at Kagero.com, has conga drums and a little disco flair to it, while "Greencard Bride", well that's just downright funky! "Lonely Rose Vendor" makes me wish I knew someone who was about to have a blowout of a bar mitzvah, so that I could turn the traditional chair dance into more of a crowd surfing experience. "Song from Africa" is probably the slowest track of all lucky thirteen on this album. Ironically, it doesn't sound all that African, or at least in the Paul Simon/Graceland interpretation from that part of the world. "Morna" provides a combination geography and history lesson into the Cape Verde region of Western Africa, although the tail end of the song seems to be a continuation of the bar mitzvah celebration started earlier. All this to say that I would love to see these guys on a tour or at a super-sweaty festival with fellow New York "gypsies" Gogol Bordello.
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