Hiroshima – Departure

Review of the contemporary jazz recording Departure by Hiroshima by

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.

Incognito – Surreal

It looks like the unstoppable Incognito has a new collection of vocal soul/jazz gems out here in the States on March 26. Surreal features vocalists Natalie Williams, Mo Brandis, Vanessa Haynes, and Maysa plus one pure Incognito instrumental.

You can take sample all of the new tracks at Amazon right now.

8 from 1989 – Mix Online!

Take a step into the past with these eight tracks from contemporary jazz releases that came out in the year 1989! Listen to classics from the Rippingtons, Miles Davis, and Hiroshima. Also, who put the meat in my bed?! It’s the second mix I’ve published on 8tracks. If you like this blast from the past, check out my 1988 mix with David Sanborn, David Benoit, Spyro Gyra, Tom Grant, Kim Pensyl, and Al Jarreau.

1989 Contemporary Jazz from contemporaryjazz on 8tracks.

Global Noize – A Prayer for the Planet

I’ve been listening to A Prayer for the Planet, the new recording by the jazz/electronica/world collective Global Noize. I can’t imagine why a fan of contemporary jazz wouldn’t want to sample this. It doesn’t follow any formulaic smooth jazz style. It’s got the duo of Jason Miles and DJ Logic leading a cast of talented musicians including Falu, Karl Denson, Mocean Worker, Jeff Coffin, and Oz Noy. It’s a recording that has something for everybody: from the rocktronic/world vocal track “Charisma Love” to the atmospheric “Walking on Air.”

DJ Logic describes Global Noize as “a hip and eclectic musical journey crossing all boundaries.” Miles, Logic, and Falu talk more about this 21st century music: