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Sept 1st 2004


Wicked tune - Toshi Kubota Toshi Kubota- Living for Today: (Sony)


When it comes to soul music no one loves the genre more endearly or is it's biggest supporter than the those that live overseas in particular those who live in Japan. So it's no surprise that one of their biggest and brightest talents has been making a name for himself on American soil.

Toshi Kubota was born and raised in Japan and discovered his love for music quite by accident. His father owned a store and as a young teenager, he came across an offer on a soda bottle that in exchange for dozens of bottle tops, he would receive a free album. Said Toshi "I don't know if my father ever found out, but there were a lot of opened soda cans with no tops in that store!"

That album was from The Stylistics and seeing that he didn't know how to read or speak English then as he recalls "There were five black men with Afros standing there. And all I could read was 'Stylistics' and it took me three years after that to finally get a record player so I could hear it!"

By that time he was introduced to another album that would change his life. The album in question was Stevie Wonders - 'Songs In The Key of Life' and it was the first album he ever brought, says Toshi. "It changed everything for me. His voice, his songs, everything was different from anything I had ever heard before."

It was with that passion and dedication that he threw himself into his new found love. By junior high, he had his own band but was frustrated by the peralis of playing the music he loves. "I wanted to sing a specific kind of music. But my band couldn't play it. It's different, especially for Japanese people. They loved it - but they couldn't play it" he said. He would later spend time performing around town in various clubs horning his craft and it was at one of these gigs that Toshi get his first big break. A major record label representative was in the house. He introduced Toshi to a jazz musician who was looking for a vocalist for his upcoming jazz album. "I went to the studio and performed one song and that was my first experience in the studio. I was so nervous! But the music was well received and that song became one of my demo tracks." And the rest is history.

His latest project is called 'Time to Share' his 3rd English album to date that's due out at the end of the month. The lead off single will be the smooth groover 'Living for Today' featuring none other than Brooklyn's own Mos Def. The song has all the essentials from the get go - a soft toned introduction of strings as Toshi sings the first few lines accapella. Then a solid baseline drops in and Mos Def adds his flavourful two cents to the mix. Throughout the song you get a distinctive jazz feel to it and you can only enjoy the song more and more as you listen to it.

I've always been a fan of Toshi's work ever since his first English album from 1995. If this song is any indication to what's in store for us on the album then it could very well be his best work to date. Be sure to pick up his new set when it comes out as I'm sure it will be an ear pleaser. A worthy TY-D pick indeed - period


Listen to Toshi Kubota ft Mos Def - 'Living for Today'




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