Hiroshima, the East Meets West jazz fusion band, has signed with the Heads Up label. Their next release will be issued on June 24, 2003. Dan Kuramoto, the group’s leader said, “Hiroshima has always been an attempt to create a unique, evolving, multicultural American music, like a mirror of our Pacific Rim communities. After 20 years, we are energized with the sense that our best work is in front of us.”
Hiroshima co-founder June Kuramoto finally gets to see her solo release, Spirit and Soul, in wide release next week. Although it’s been available at the Hiroshima web site for many months, you’ll now have a chance to buy the CD in stores and at online stores. June is one of the world’s foremost koto players and, as you might expect, the CD is a more personal work. She recently told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin Online that “the album has a lot of meaning to me. This is music from a woman’s perspective.” For more on June’s new release, and the Kuramotos thoughts on today’s music industry, check out the article.
The most consistent source of inspiration for this site is XM Satellite Radio channel 72 – Beyond Jazz. Russ Davis has put together the best radio station for any fan of modern jazz. It’s the only station I know where you can hear fusion classics from Jean-Luc Ponty and Return To Forever and the latest plugged-in jazz from Joe Zawinul and Liquid Soul. I’ve even heard cuts from one of my desert island discs – the discontinued Jazz in the Present Tense by the Solsonics. Even though you get 100 channels on XM with your $10/month subscription, this station is about all I listen to. I had one of my best drives home from work this week when Davis was playing this set: Groove Collective, James Taylor Quartet, Jamiroquai, George Duke, and Al Di Meola.
It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to get XM. The new Delphi SkyFi Radio is out and you can purchase a home or car kit for it. A boombox for the SkyFi is coming by the end of the year, making XM mobile outside of your vehicle or house. Although this sounds like a commercial, I’m not paid by XM. I just love it and I know modern jazz fans have difficulty hearing this music today (especially with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) trying to rub out Internet radio with outrageous fees).
You can take a sample listen to the programming on Beyond Jazz, and all of XM’s programming at the XM Satellite Radio web site. I think you’ll be happy you did.
John Vidor recently caught one of the few Chick Corea Elektric Band Reunion concerts at The Blue Note in NYC on October 26. John has been kind enough to write this report and supply the pictures below. Thanks, John!
“Having lived in the New York City area for over 15 years until 1985, and now living in upstate New York, it is always a pleasure going back for a visit, especially when going to see a jazz show. On Saturday, October 26, my wife Gladys and I had the pleasure of attending the reunion concert of the Chick Corea Elektric Band at The Blue Note. Chick was joined by Eric Marienthal, Frank Gambale, Jimmy Earl, and Dave Weckl. To say that the show was one of the finest we ever saw would be an understatement. The fact that we were sitting only one seat back from stage-center in this hallowed center of jazz only added to the enjoyment. From this vantage point, one can see the drops of sweat, the popping veins, and the intense concentration of the band members as they perform. Chick’s choice of the term “Elektric” for this band not only refers to the instrumentation, but, at least in my opinion, to the charged atmosphere created by group as they play. It was a full house at the Blue Note last Saturday, with people of various ethnic backgrounds coming together to enjoy the show. I heard Brazilian, German, Russian, Swedish, and Spanish being spoken. The band has international appeal. Another couple sitting with us at our table came all the way from Cleveland, Ohio. Chick and the guys played a number of songs from their various releases. My personal favorite was “Blue Miles”, an in-your-face funk tune off the band’s Paint the World release. In addition, there were duets with Chick and Eric, and Chick and Frank (on acoustic guitar). Dave Weckl provided incredible drum work, and Jimmy Earl’s contribution on bass was astounding. There was plenty of opportunity for soloing by all of the members, and each member took full advantage to show off their chops. After the show, I had the pleasure of taking a couple of pictures with Chick. I asked him if a new Elektric Band release was planned. Chick was a bit evasive, but my guess is that if the boys are met with the response at the other venues they will be appearing at, is the same as at The Blue Note last Saturday, get ready for some more “elektricity” from this super-band.”
Looked outside the window lately? The forecast for Weather Report fans has been sunny this month. On October 1, the two-CD set Live and Unreleased hit stores. Performances from 1975 to 1983 are captured in the collection and you’ll find all of the group’s signature songs. The release was produced with the full cooperation of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, making this the first official Weather Report album in over 15 years.
Joe’s new solo release, Faces and Places made its U.S. debut in mid-September. The CD is the perfect blending of world music and jazz. You won’t believe that Joe is 70 years of age when you hear how this music moves. Joe’s plugged-in sound, combined with the world influences, makes for one of the best jazz listening experiences this year.
Faces and Places is out on ESC Records, which is also releasing Victor Bailey’s new solo effort in the U.S. this week. Victor was Weather Report’s bassist when the group dissolved in the mid-80s but continued his relationship with Joe in the Zawinul Syndicate and beyond. That’s Right has a top-notch band – Omar Hakim, Bill Evans, Jim Beard, Dean Brown, Lenny White, and Bennie Maupin. I haven’t heard the CD, but I’ve very interested in one of the tracks that ESC’s web site describes. On “Black on the Bach,” Bailey overdubs four tracks of interlocking bass parts – arpeggios, solos, counterpoint, call-and-response -to merge J.S. Bach and the blues. That, in addition to Bailey’s established playing ability and the calibre of other musicians on this CD, will make me consider buying this CD without even a sample listen.
I saw Liquid Soul in concert at the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival three years ago. I had never heard of the band before. My wife and I were sitting on the lawn enjoying the day of music when the group hit the stage around 6 p.m. I wasn’t sitting after about 30 seconds. The sheer power of the sound this funk ensemble put forth was unbelievable. Brassy horns, deep bass, jazz guitar, DJ – this was a tight group and knew how to lay out a groove and work the crowd. Two minutes into the show, I gave my wife some money and asked her to buy every Liquid Soul thing she could find. It remains one of the top concerts that I have ever seen.
Though there’s nothing like seeing them live, the band’s new CD, Evolution doesn’t hold anything back. You’ll hear it from the start, with the punchy “Action Jackson”. You’ll be dancing to “I Was Meant To Be Rich.” You’ll be jumping around the room when James “Squeeze” Taylor hands off his rap to the horns on “Soul.” The band keeps the music moving, rarely slowing down (it sounds like an attempt at a slower tempo was made on “Bossa Interlude” but that’s scratched at under a minute). The only problem is that I can’t listen to the CD at work since I end up spinning around in my chair and unable to focus on my projects.
Do yourself a favor and see Liquid Soul live. They’ll be in Iowa, Colorado, Utah, and their home state of Illinois (the band hails from Chicago) the rest of this month and the tour continues through next month.