NEW ON CD
Heads Up International
Dan Kurumoto, leader of the popular fusion jazz / R&B band, has been promising that Hiroshima's latest album would represent a new direction for the band. Well, "The Bridge" hasn't entirely cut off its fans of the smooth, radio-friendly music they've been accustomed to over the years, but a goodly portion of the album shows that Kurumoto's keeping his word.
The album alternates between the familiar and the new, and then takes it home on a strong note. A couple of the better moments through tried-and-true material is Terry Steele's singing on the Isley-Jasper-Isley soul classic "Caravan of Love" and guitarist Fred Schreuders' tangy solo on an otherwise bland "Another Wish."
But let's get to the good stuff. Band member and former islander Kimo Cornwell is helping Hiroshima get to the next step in the development of its music, and his comp and arrangement work on the moody and exotic opener "Eternal Phoenix" and "Shaka Phonk" show what sonically inventive things he's bringing to the table.
And Kurumoto's "Revelation" shows how much the Japanese-American is a brother at heart, as he takes a soulful strut on his tenor sax.
The last four tracks of "The Bridge" is where the band hits its stride. "Manzanar" (a composition they played at their previous concert at the Hawaii Theatre) is a wistful dedication to the Nisei, filled with koto and shakuhachi textures and a palpable sense of drama. The Brazilian-influenced "Viven" has a nice mix of June Kuramoto's koto and Dan's tenor, with a broad, burry sound reminiscent of Gato Barbieri.
The closing "Seven Rivers" is the most rhythmically aggressive of all the tracks, with alternating chant / sing parts and a stinging guitar solo by guest Michael Sasaki.
Here's hoping that same sense of excitement and discovery continues to build on their next album.
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