198

Hiroshima: Little Tokyo

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Hiroshima: Little Tokyo
There's something about the word "crossover that makes musicians and their fans cringe—as if it's bad to be considered diverse. Yet that's exactly what Hiroshima is—a band that plays a little bit of everything.

Originating in Los Angeles, this Japanese-American ensemble has been a lesson in cultural diversity since its beginnings in 1974 and album debut in 1979. Hiroshima's music, though largely centered around the genre of smooth jazz, blends traditional Asian melodies with R&B, pop, African styles and some straightforward jazz. Often, several of these elements come together in a single track, which is the case through much of Little Tokyo.

The core band is comprised of Dan Kuramoto (saxophones, flutes, keyboards), ex-wife June Kuramoto( koto), Kimo Cornwell (keyboards, Rhodes, piano), Danny Yamamoto (drums), Shoji Kameda (taiko, percussion), Dean Taba (acoustic bass), Dean Cortez (bass) and a several guest musicians.

"Midnight Sun sets things off with Dan Kuramoto's brooding flute setting up June's koto, which brings the other instruments in. This Middle Eastern-inspired track features Kameda and Kenny Endo on taiko drums, one of several tracks with one or both musicians. Dan's tenor sax engages in a haunting, snake charmer solo.

Pieces of a Dream's James Lloyd wrote "Lanai, on which he also plays keyboards and synthesizers. This track, more so than most, has a strong smooth jazz feel. It's an upbeat groove, accented by the koto, Cornwell's elegant piano and Dan Kuramoto's tenor. The funky "Red Beans and Rice features the Kuramotos mostly, but Cortez's bass line and Yamamoto's drum licks help spice it up.

Han contributes to "Quan Yin (Goddess of Compassion), playing the ehru, a stringed instrument that sounds similar to the violin. Taba's acoustic bass helps give this track an old-school jazz feel, though the other instruments make it distinctively Eastern. Cornwell's solo on the Rhodes injects a bit of 1970s fusion, punctuated by Yamamoto's work on the toms and cymbals.

Over the years, Hiroshima has earned several awards: Odori (Razor and Tie, 1980) earned a Grammy nomination. Another Place (Sony/Epic, 1985) spawned the hit single "One Wish and became the group's first gold record. Go (Sony/Epic, 1987) topped the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart for three months and earned a Soul Train Award for Best Jazz Album of 1987. These honors are due in large part to the group's widespread appeal. That appeal remains strong with Little Tokyo.

Track Listing

Midnight Sun; On the Fence; Lanai; Red Beans and Rice; Sir Charles; Hidden Times; Shades of Honor; Quan Yin; Drama; Hiro Chill; Little Tokyo Underground.

Personnel

June Kuramoto: koto; Dan Kuramoto: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion, shakuhachi; Kimo Cornwell: piano, synthesizer, rhodes, clavinet; Danny Yamamoto: drums; Dean Cortez: bass; Shoji Kameda: taiko, percussion, voice; Dean Taba: acoustic bass (1, 6, 8, 10); Kenny Endo: taiko, percussion (1, 6-8, 11); Richie Gajate Garcia: conga, percussion (1, 5, 7, 8); James Lloyd: keyboards, synthesizers (2); Mary Garcia: coquito (5); Leslie Chew: guitars (9).

Album information

Title: Little Tokyo | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Heads Up International

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Genealogy
CODE Quartet
First Mile
Lamb Anderson Sorgen
What are the Odds?
Dennis Winge
Untucked In Hannover
Tom Rainey Obbligato
Aliens & Wizards
The Spike Wilner Trio
Manhattan Samba
Hendrik Meurkens
Almost Alone Vol 1
Samo Salamon & Friends

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.