Hiroshima – Departure
By John Hilderbrand on Apr 19, 2012
I stopped writing reviews a few years ago. One of the major
reasons is that I just didn't have any new things to say.
Fortunately, Hiroshima doesn't have that problem. The group,
led by Dan Kuramoto, continues to make their own East Meets
West contemporary jazz. Departure, their 18th recording, is
defined by its title. They are releasing this on their own. No
record label marketing push or anything like that. They're an
"Why Departure? Where do I begin? After more than 30 years in the recording industry
— and almost four million records sold – we've decided to leave record companies
behind and venture on our own," Kuramoto explains. "It's kinda scary, but given the
changes in the music industry and what it's now going to take for us to survive, we are
moving toward direct contact with the community."
A big part of reaching out to the community is putting content on one of the top three
web sites in the world – Facebook. Hiroshima contributes frequently to their Facebook
hub. One of the best things there is links to video commentaries by the band for every
track on Departure.
What about the music? Kuramoto breaks it down: "It is
a new beginning for us in many ways. The songs are all
originals with just one guest artist, the incredible
harmonica player Tetsuya "Tex" Nakamura, featured on
the luscious opening track, "Have You Ever Wondered,"
composed by June and Kimo. "Koto Cruise" is the
second song and features a funky groove and a burning
koto solo. "Blues for Sendai" is just that. There's a
tribute to our friend and mentor James Moody, who
passed last December. It's called "See You Again," and there is a lot of 'quoting' from
his "Moody's Mood for Love." After many years of requests, we have recorded our first
full-on taiko solo ever, "Yamasong"–a live recording that really captures Shoji and
Danny's fierce interplay. "First Nation," a composition by the Hawaiian Kimo Cornwell,
is a powerhouse of a song embracing many cultures, as does our reincarnation of
"Thousand Cranes." The CD ends with a soulful version of "One Wish," done as an
Consistent quality, a distinct sound, and longevity = win. If I were creating a
Contemporary Jazz Hall of Fame, Hiroshima would certainly be an early inductee.