Lionmilk Quartet’s forthcoming live debut album, O.T.S. is released on August 20th on Preference Records – out digitally already is the first lead single Take A Breath – featuring the classically trained, raised on beats and liberated by jazz, Moki Kawaguchi (aka Lionmilk). A pianist, producer, composer, vocalist and fixture on the LA scene, the 27-year-old has released solo albums, collaborated with MNDSGN, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Alpha Pup band Breathing Effect, honing a sound between dreamy pop, Brazilian Bossa and modern soul influences.
“I brought this tune to the band without any kind of arrangement, direction or expectation. We went over the melody once during rehearsal, and left the rest for the performance. I fully trusted in us and I was surprised and proud of the result!” explains Lionmilk about the new record.
The album showcases some of the city’s finest players: Diego Gaeta (keyboards), Caleb Buchanan (bass) and Aloe Blacc and Kiefer collaborator Will Logan (drums). It’s released on Preference Records – run by six artists, including drummer Mekala Session (Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra), producer Jesse Justice and Stones Throw jazz prodigy Jamael Dean – forging a collective identity for championing the city’s new sounds.
Channeling the original spirit of L.A.’s Low End Theory – whose founder Daddy Kev mastered this record – the O.T.S. sessions bring together the instrumental and production techniques of beatmakers, jazz, funk, gospel, ambient and rock musicians together with the spirit of collaboration and experimentation, carving out a new post-beats era.
O.T.S. was recorded live in June 2019 and named after the monthly showcase at BackBeat LA.
“Jazz comes with a whole history, there’s a whole lineage and those musicians that came before me and us and I feel they would want it to continue to change and evolve,” Lionmilk describes.
Rooted in the lineage of questing Black music that connects pianists Oscar Peterson and Lonnie Liston Smith to the likes of Robert Glasper today, the diversity of the LA scene is close to Kawaguchi’s heart. The band that represents Black, Mexican and his own Japanese-American heritage.
“This movement is based in being a community without the hierarchy, without any judgement, you got a chance on the stage – we’re moving away from any kind of abuse or putting people in boxes. This is an inclusive scene that we can all feel safe in and grow in.”
In 2020, Kawaguchi also released a hand-dubbed cassette called I Hope You Are Well, which he delivered to friends and family he thought might be suffering with depression or anxiety during the pandemic.