Review of the contemporary jazz recording Departure by Hiroshima by John Hilderbrand
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 indie band.
“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 acoustic trio.”
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.