Hiroshima, one of instrumental world music’s most innovative acts, blends Asian and North American sensibilities that reflects both cultural and spiritual connections, the albums worldwide release on Heads Up International is also availabe on an SACD version in 5.1 Surround Sound (HUSA 9076) will also be available.
"We looked at who we are when we came up with the title," says multi-instrumentalist Dan Kuramoto, the band’s leader and producer. "For us, The Bridge has many different meanings, including cultural and artistic bridges. As a third generation Japanese, it’s about growing up here and trying to integrate socially. Also, the music business has continued to change its complexion, and as a group we need to constantly reinvent ourselves while staying true to our artistic vision. We’re bridging a lot of things right now."
"The Bridge is the most uptempo record we’ve ever done," continues Kuramoto, who also engineered the project. "It was essentially recorded ‘live’ in the studio, but with overdubs, odd loops and even scratch tracks. We’re featuring different elements of the band, the koto, the keyboard – rebalancing the yin and the yang – to create a larger sound."
There’s an innovative convergence of styles and moods in The Bridge’s eleven tracks. The group’s strong roots in Asia come to the fore on "Eternal Phoenix," a rhythmic, jazz montage that spotlights the sounds of Japan and India. The Afro/Brazilian-tinged "Viven" (Spanish for "They Live") is a rousing song of life and spirit. Dedicated the Nisei (the second generation of Japanese to call America home), "Manzanar" recalls the barren desert, barbed wire and haunting winds endured by Kuramoto’s mother in an internment camp during World War II.
A new arrangement of the George Benson hit "I Just Want to Hang Around You" features Terry Steele on lead vocals. As does the Isley Brother’s classic "Caravan of Love," its messages of brotherhood and humanity recast for today – and tomorrow. The uplifting "Another Wish" is reminiscent of Hiroshima’s magical 1985 hit "One Wish."
The boogie tune "Revelation" conjures a soulful Les McCann or Alan Toussaint vibe, while the hypnotic "7 Rivers" is an ode to the spirit of the people of Hiroshima and their rise from the ashes. Other highlights include the hip hop-flavored "Shaka Phonk," the haunting "Sanju" and the seductive "Whenever."
Well-known for its distinctive East-meets-West approach to performance, composition and recording, Hiroshima has performed for countless fans around the world and their extensive catalog of albums has sold over three million copies internationally.
Formed in Los Angeles, CA, in 1974 by Dan Kuramoto and musical partner June Kuramoto – one of the world’s leading koto players – Hiroshima became a thriving and pioneering instrumental ensemble with the addition of master taiko drummer Johnny Mori, drummer/percussionist Danny Yamamoto and Hawaiian jazz keyboard sensation Kimo Cornwell. For nearly 30 years, this ultimate fusion band has been creating a musical blend of rhythm and blues, jazz and international sounds while fostering social and spiritual awareness.
At the heart of Hiroshima’s sound is the koto playing of June Kuramoto. A virtuoso on the koto (a long Japanese multi-stringed instrument), Kuramoto was born near Tokyo and raised in inner city Los Angeles. As a first-generation Japanese-American coming of age in the 1960s, she found herself straddling cultures and traditions. In her adult life, she has worked toward bridging cultural gaps in her playing and composing.
As to whether The Bridge is radically different from the distinct sound they’ve already established, June Kuramoto says, "I’m sure there’s always that thread of similarity but hopefully we’re always treading new ground and always on the edge."
"We’re still teaching people how to hear us," Dan Kuramoto adds. "I think The Bridge reflects the different adventures that we’ve all pursued. Every time out we’re trying something different and that’s what’s makes it exciting."