THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE
Hiroshima--Legacy

Well, there are “best of” collections and then there are testaments to legacies.  Veteran jazz fusion group, Hiroshima, couldn’t have tagged their latest project in a better manner.  Having more years under their recording/performing belt than some artists have had birthdays, this group dropped in on us with its unique brand of fusion some 30 years ago and has been welcomed back with robust enthusiasm ever since.  Legacy captures some sensational moments in the group’s career, and I understand that founders Dan and June Kuramoto hope to build a series from this pilot.  Personally, from what they’ve presented here, they could do that successfully and easily.  By the way, they’ve not only chosen the tunes well, but they’ve made certain that more than a few lengthy ones are tossed in. Such generosity is not lost on this writer.

As wonderful to behold in person (witnessing June Kuramoto on the koto is something at which to truly marvel) as they are on record, Hiroshima has been secure and secured in its position in the jazz world for as long as I can remember. Their signature sound has yet to be matched.  Imaginative compositions and melodies boasting of the tight, meticulous integration of East and West music, coupled with charming collective personalities, have worked wonders for this fine group over the years, and you can see how they’ve withstood the test of time oh-so-easily.

The album opens with the tasteful, groove-tight “Winds of Change,” weaves its way through a pair of my favs (“One Wish” and “Dada”), and just has fun taking us all on a very cool reminiscent journey of truly classy music that utilizes elements of soul, jazz, funk, and Eastern charm to punctuate and affect.

Here’s a group that really needs no introduction, but always deserves a grand entrance. As mentioned earlier, there are all sorts of “best of” collections available in any genre in abundance. To term this project as just another such production not only misses the mark but is inaccurate because this is certainly only the tip of the iceberg of “bests” for Hiroshima. -- Ronald Jackson