Twenty-two years ago Hiroshima scored a huge smooth jazz single with “One Wish,” a tune so popular it’s still played a million times a day on radio. The Los Angeles-based band hasn’t come close to replicating that success on the airwaves, but the band’s new CD confirms that it’s still one of the most challenging and engaging actual bands around. Named after the historic section of Los Angeles, the new CD makes a compelling, positive statement with its fusion of jazz, pop, rock and Far East elements.
Dan Kuramoto was the undisputed leader of the group in 1980 and remains so today. His compositional skills are first-rate, but what’s often overlooked is just how deft he is on sax. On “Midnight Sun,” which features a dark and compelling melody wrapped around June Kuramoto’s haunting koto, Kuramoto’s deep tenor adds a splash of mainstream jazz to the mystical proceedings. Jazz comes back to the fore on “Red Beans and Rice,” dedicated to the good people of New Orleans, with manic keys solos by Kimo Cornwell. Little Tokyo is a cohesive project spotlighting musicians and various cultures, but the one track that rises up, due to its uniqueness, is “Hiro Chill.” The peppy little number slyly nods at the chill music genre and its keys and synths are reminiscent of “One Wish.” It’s a fine bookend to that classic.