By ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo
A laid-back Dan Kuramoto looked out at the sold-out Aratani Theatre audience Saturday night and took a moment to mention that CDs were for sale in the lobby.
Then, the music started — a piece featuring koto virtuoso June Okida Kuramoto, more soulful, more nuanced, more powerful than ever. Suddenly, buying music on a fading platform like a compact disc didn’t seem like a bad idea.
On Saturday’s playlist was “Time on the Nile,” a song they wrote in tribute to the late Miles Davis, with whom they toured in 1990. They also performed fan favorites “One Wish” and “Thousand Cranes,” both featuring June, who reiterated the songs’ message calling for peace and hope.
The performance drew two standing ovations and an encore.
The group was originated in 1974 when the Japan-trained kotoist hit upon the idea of creating a fresh sound that fused traditional Japanese instruments with contemporary jazz. Five years later, the artists known simply as Hiroshima had solidified their place on the jazz landscape in America. Dan referred to June as a unicorn, a unique being that rarely comes along.
Joining Dan and June onstage were Kimo Cornwell on keyboards, Land Richards on drums, and Dean Cortez on bass.
Dan Kuramoto (front) takes a solo while drummer Land Richards and keyboardist Kimo Cornwell keep the groove moving.
Hiroshima released their first album in 1979, which was followed in 1985 by their most successful album, “Another Place,” which was also on the Billboard Jazz chart for over a year and went gold. That album was followed by “Go,” which also went gold.
To date, Hiroshima has sold a total of more than 4 million albums worldwide.
The group received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Instrumental for the song “Winds of Change.”
Recently, Dan announced that the band has begun donating approximately half their earnings to charitable causes such as the World Central Kitchen and Los Angeles-based Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP). Hiroshima’s Domo Tour pays homage to friends who have followed the band since the 1970s as well as more recent fans.
Retirement? “Maybe we’ll take a break,” Dan told the audience.
Hiroshima will be performing next at the Alex Theater in Glendale on Nov. 12. Another sold-out performance is expected. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketsales.com/hiroshima-tickets-alex-theatre/event/4106409.
Photos by KEN FONG