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Hiroshima: The Bridge

The veteran contemporary jazz outfit Hiroshima returns after nearly four years away with The Bridge (Heads Up), a title that reflects the band’s unique way of fusing Eastern and Western musical traditions by combining ancient and contemporary instruments. The stately opener, “Eternal Phoenix,” establishes a mystical mood with koto, tablas and fue, a Japanese flute, and then suddenly there’s a jazzy piano break in the middle of the tune. The sax-driven “Viven” features percussion that itself combines African and Brazilian elements, while horns meet koto on the grooving “Shaka Phonk.” The percussive “Seven Rivers” features chanted vocals, while the koto complements R&B singer Terry Steele’s soulful voice on the band’s cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Caravan of Love.” The poignant “Manzanar” communicates the hardships that koto player June Kuramoto’s mother was forced to endure in a World War II internment camp; led by koto and shakuhachi flute, the tune builds in intensity into the album’s most powerful and dramatic statement.

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