MicroCorgi is a New York -based trio debuting and featuring Andrew McGowan (keys), Yuto Kanazawa (guitar), and Ilya Dynov (drums). They hail from far corners of the globe and have diverse influences such as European Jazz, Japanese rock, Afro-beat, and New Orleans brass band music. Having formed in 2018, they forged a unique sound that builds off the “organ trio” format with the bass duties handled in turns by McGowan and Kanazawa. The combination of piano, synth bass, guitar, and drums has some things in common with those relationships established by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery, and which has been explored by guitarists Pat Metheny and Gilad Hekselman, but a different sound. Hekelsman, for example is part of the newly formed bass-less unit, Trio Grande, with one of Metheny’s long-time drummers, Antonio Sanchez, and saxophonist Will Vinson. Obviously, the horn gives them a different sound, but that unit has more in common with MicroCorgi than the legendary Smith and Montgomery (although to be fair, there are echoes of Montgomery in Kanazawa’s guitar playing).
MicroCorgi ascribes their sound to a minimalist aesthetic reminiscent of Philip Glass, combined with a soulful truth indebted to Black American Music. Their album MicroCosmos emits synth-bass future-funk, catchy melodies, and atmospheric vibes. They begin with a soft, atmospheric vibe as the guitar hits a series of notes over bubbling keys with a snyth bass as undercurrent in the aptly named “Cosmosphere,” somewhat similar in sound to bassists Derrick Hodge and Joshua Crumbly recent efforts. “Avocados Every Day” has a breezy, punchy groove, that gives way to an elegant acoustic piano solo from McGowan that transforms it into a highly melodic piece. “68” begins with a few clusters of notes form Kanazawa and recedes into a gentle piece encapsulating acoustic piano and steady beats from Dynov.
The heavy-metal guitar shredding in “Alayashiki” though completely changes the dynamic, pushing into edgy territory. “Another Day” features a vocal performance by Andrew McGowan over a head-nodding rock beat, with simple lyrics. This too, obviously is quite different from the opening three tracks “Prosperity” is a guitar-driven piece, somewhat like “68” with Kanazawa playing in a restrained Montgomery-esque style that McGowan reflects in his shimmering piano solo. It’s an outstanding track, with gorgeous, dreamy, music.
Again, they radically change it up in “Corgi,” a funkified number with both McGowan and Kanazawa squeezing out wah-wah efforts over Dynov’s insistent beats, before McGowan takes a more conventional piano excursion before the funk returns. “In “Tuff Pretty Lady” their flair for catchy melodies again appears over a pulsating throwback groove, Kanazawa plays beautifully, and drummer Ilya Dynov displays some creative flourishes. The closer “Utopia” bears resemblance, with more fine work from all three players.
On the one hand, the album is interesting for the curve balls it throws just when the listener feels settled into a groove. Yet, the band’s strength clearly lies in its melodic, flowing pieces which should be their salient approach going forward.
More on the Artist(s)
Andrew McGowan is a New Orleans born pianist who played with renowned artists such as Jason Marsalis, Joe Dyson and Sasha Masakowski in New Orleans as well as bands such as the Stooges Brass Band and The Session. After moving to NYC in 2016, Andrew played at major jazz clubs in NYC such as Blue Note, Minton’s, Dizzy’s, Smalls and Fat Cat. Yuto Kanazawa is a versatile Japanese guitarist/bassist in demand for jazz, funk, fusion, gospel, and Latin music in NY. As a bandleader and guitarist, he has recorded seven full albums and six EPs, including his debut album Earthwards on Interrobang Records. He has worked with many renowned musicians such as Grammy winning jazz singer Kurt Elling, Ed Cherry, Don Pate, Randy Jackson, Gregg Errico, Jerry Martini, Kuni Mikami, Lonnie Plaxico, Lafayette Harris, and others. Ilya Dynov is a New York based internationally acclaimed drummer, vibraphonist, and percussionist. Ilya has performed internationally on major festivals and clubs as a drummer, soloist, and ensemble musician.
- Jim Hynes