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Hiroshima: Obon

This year marks Hiroshima’s 25th anniversary as a recording act, and also the 60th anniversary of the Japanese-American internment-camps imprisonment during World War II. In commemoration of both, the band offers Obon (Heads Up), its first all-instrumental album. Obon is a Buddhist event in which one honors ancestors, which is the inspiration for “Heritage,” the album’s solemn, elegant closing track. The piece also exemplifies Hiroshima’s distinctive aesthetics: the blending of Eastern and contemporary jazz sensibilities, and the use of both traditional Asian and modern instruments. Highlights on this album include “Swiss Ming,” which could best be described as soul-jazz with an Eastern twist, “Kototsu-han (San Kyoku),” wherein a funky bass rhythm underpins koto and a lyrical erhu (a Chinese violin), “Mr. Robben,” a jazzy, piano-driven tribute to Nelson Mandela, and “Obon Two-Five,” which celebrates the band’s anniversary and features koto and thunderous taiko drums alongside a sweet flute melody.

Originally Published