Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. It was in 1974 that Dan Kuramoto and June Kuramoto formed Hiroshima. With the ground-breaking convergence of eastern and western music as its fulcrum, the band quickly found success with its self titled debut CD and since then has gone on to record fourteen more spellbinding collections that demonstrate the commitment its founding members have to their own special brand of cross cultural innovation. This dedication is as strong as ever and now, in the company of Hiroshima’s current line-up of keyboard player Kimo Cornwell, drummer Danny Yamamoto, percussionist Shoji Kameda and bass-man Dean Cortez, they are rolling back the years with the release of the wonderful new album Legacy. Out now on the Heads Up International label it features eleven songs from the first ten years of the bands prolific history yet, with every track having been re-recorded live in Dan Kuramoto’s home studio, this is far from being a run of the mill ‘best of’ project. In many cases the tunes are fairly similar to the originals. In others they are very different. With guest performances from Hiroshima’s ‘extended family’ of percussionist Richie Gajate Garcia and vocalists Terry Steele, Yvette Nii and Jim Gilstrap the result is as good as any contemporary jazz recording released this year.
In countless ways Legacy is a breathtaking insight into the genre bending excitement that typified the evolution of contemporary jazz throughout the eighties. A case in point is the title cut from ‘Another Place’ which, although originally just over three minutes in duration, is delivered here as a nine minute tour de force with gargantuan solos from Kimo Cornwell and June Kuramoto. Equally potent is the bands seven minute take on the atmospheric ‘Winds of Change’. Undoubtedly this is vintage Hiroshima at its best while elsewhere ‘Thousand Cranes’ serves as a showcase for June Kuramoto’s virtuosity on koto. This thirteen string zither like instrument proves an unlikely yet hugely effective contemporary jazz device and it is again to the fore both with the mesmerizingly beautiful ‘I’ve Been Here Before’ and the zesty ‘Hawaiian Electric’. This latter track was originally recorded in 1987 for the Go CD and is entirely evocative of the period. However, some music is simply timeless and in this respect personal favourites include the magical ‘Room Full Of Mirrors’ from the bands 1979 debut offering. Yvette Nii on vocals has never sounded better and when the lead switches to the soulful tones of Terry Steele the outcome is the emotionally charged ‘Save Your Love For Me’. One of three tunes lifted from the 1985 release Another Place it is in the good company of ‘One Wish’ that could arguably be described as the album’s real showstopper. This funky yet enthralling number has a vibe to die for and all the attributes of being seriously addictive.
For those who missed out on Hiroshima the first time around Legacy is an amazing opportunity to begin a journey that promises more great things to come. Meanwhile, aficionados of the band are sure to luxuriate in the reimagining of some truly astonishing music.
To learn more about Hiroshima and its music go to www.hiroshimamusic.com
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.Posted by Denis Poole at November 4, 2009 6:05 PM