Archive for January 27th, 2012

Hiroshima – Departure

Hiroshima is the only Asian band to receive a Grammy-nomination and they have two. Legacy featured songs from the first 10 years and celebrated the band’s 30 years in the industry. Departure, number 18 for the celebrated Hiroshima who has created it’s own voice. . . One of the most unique bands in the world, Hiroshima combines traditional Japanese instruments, including koto, taiko and shakuhachi with western instruments and harmony, embracing rhythms ranging from Jazz to Latin and R&B –a blend referred to by famed British producer Robin Millar as “Urban World Music.”

After more than 30 years in the recording industry — and almost 4 million records sold – Hiroshima decided to leave record companies behind and venture on our own. It’s kinda scary, but given the changes in the music industry and what it’s now going to take for us to survive, we are moving toward direct contact with the community.

Departure is a new beginning for Hiroshima in many ways. The songs are all originals with just one guest artist, the incredible harmonica player Tetsuya “Tex” Nakamura, featured on the luscious opening track, “Have You Ever Wondered,” composed by June and Kimo. “Koto Cruise,” is the second song and features a funky groove and a burning koto solo. “Blues for Sendai” is just that. There’s a tribute to our friend and mentor James Moody, who passed last December. It’s called “See You Again,” and there is a lot of ‘quoting’ from his “Moody’s Mood for Love.”

After many years of requests, we have recorded our first full-on taiko solo ever, “Yamasong”–a live recording that really captures Shoji and Danny’s fierce interplay. “First Nation,” a composition by the Hawaiian Kimo Cornwell, is a powerhouse of a song embracing many cultures, as does our reincarnation of “Thousand Cranes.” The CD ends with a soulful version of “One Wish,” done as an acoustic trio.

Departure is now available at CDBaby.

Neil Leonard – Marcel’s Window

Those around in the 1970s might recall a disco song called “The Sound of Philadelphia,” which was the theme for television series, Soul Train. Saxophonist/composer Neil Leonard calls Marcel’s Window (GASP Records, 2011) the “sound of Philly in the 21st century.”

Born in Boston, Leonard is based in Philadelphia, Pa., and draws on the talents of other Philly musicians: pianist Tom Lawton, bassist Lee Smith and drummer Craig McIver. The set is comprised of six pieces that represent the city’s culture. The title is drawn from a window cut into the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s façade to illuminate Marcel Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors.”

“Alex in the Atrium” is a playful piece that features Leonard on the alto sax. Though a modern piece, it’s done in a traditional jazz style. Bass and drums cut loose underneath the leads, and at times share the spotlight with sax or piano. McIver’s array of cymbals helps highlight varying textures of the beat. Toward the end of the song, Smith solos on bass, snapping the strings in rapid-fire succession during several phrases.

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