Staying on top as one of contemporary jazz’s premier innovators is not always easy, especially in an environment that is constantly evolving and very eclectic. One group in particular has had the luxury and stamina of transcending the boundaries of acceptance, while withstanding the constant rigors of commercial adaptation to an ever-changing market. For more than twenty-five years, Hiroshima has withstood the transition from contemporary jazz innovations to smooth jazz pop instrumentation. Throughout their history, Hiroshima has always been on the cutting-edge of progressive creativity by intuitively incorporating their ideas and creativity with the true essence of America’s only original art form. With 14 albums to their credit, Hiroshima has once again positioned themselves as cutting-edged influences by releasing ‘Little Tokyo’ on the Heads Up International Record Label, a recording that continues a long-standing tradition of melding Asian influences with contemporary stylized jazz. The group’s ability to push the envelope of varying elements of improvisation under an umbrella of insightful musical prose has placed Hiroshima in a category that is uniquely to be different.
‘Little Tokyo’ continues a formula that pulls diverse Japanese instrumentation into an arena of jazz, Latin, R&B and pop music. There are eleven ultra dynamic tracks, all of which test the diversity of combining Asian, Middle Eastern, rock and other musical styles with jazz. For Hiroshima, the unpredictability of experimentation has always been their challenge, especially when trying to stay true to their original premise of bridging the immense gap between east and west musical adaptations. From the very onset of this latest release, Hiroshima cuts across the boundaries of commercial idealism with airy and melodic melodies. Tracks such as "Midnight Sun," "On The Fence" and "Lanai" do a superb job of highlighting June Kuramoto’s koto and Dan Kuramoto’s saxophone as a backdrop for Shoji Kameda’s and Kenny Endo’s taiko drums. Also included in that mix on "Midnight Sun" is Kimo Cornwell’s presence with a very inviting solo package. James Lloyd of Pieces of A Dream makes a contribution as well on "Lanai" with some serious keyboard melodic structures. All in all, everything about ‘Little Tokyo’ commands attention, which in some ways is a dated reminder of what Hiroshima has always been about the continued process of melding Asian influences with western stylized contemporary jazz and rhythmic melodically correct musical structures.
Overall, ‘Little Tokyo’ is an album that commands attention from beginning to end. The boundaries that often inhibit today’s jazz musicians do not apply on Hiroshima’s latest musical journey into sound. Their ability to ebb and flow melodically with streams of percussive rhythms is spontaneous and bravely strategic in approach. Without a doubt, Hiroshima has stepped out with a bold new effort that commands attention and is sure to continue them as one of jazz’s most creative and innovative groups of their generation.