Sunday, September 13, 2009

Classic Mellow Jazz - Hiroshima, Shakatak, Hideaki Tokunaga & Ted Ito

Hiroshima is an American jazz fusion band formed in 1974 by Sansei Japanese American Dan Kuramoto (wind instruments and band leader), June Kuramoto (koto), Johnny Mori (percussion and taiko), and Danny Yamamoto (keyboards and drums). Named for the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the band is best-known for the fusing of Japanese music and other forms of world music into its playing. Its early jazz-pop R&B sound gave the group a huge following among the African American community and they are regarded as musical pioneers among the Asian American and Japanese American community.

Hiroshima's debut album in 1979, the self-titled Hiroshima, contained the single "Da-da," which caught the ear of the "easy-listening" community.

Hiroshima became popular in the smooth jazz community upon the release of its 1985 album Another Place, which spawned the crossover hit "One Wish."

The highlight of Hiroshima's career was being the opening act for the Miles Davis 1990 world tour. Since then, despite moving towards new age music, the group continues to gain a wider audience for its music.

June Kuramoto is the only founding member who is not American-born. She was born in Saitama Prefecture and moved to Los Angeles at a young age.
The band was featured in a 1976 documentary titled Cruisin' J-Town, directed by Duane Kubo. The group wrote an original song titled "The Moon is a Window to Heaven" for the 1989 film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Hiroshima is still active after 20 years of creating music. Its latest album, Little Tõkyõ, continues the group's style of Jazz fused with Asian instruments and synthesizer, which sounds like no one else. In its personal statement the group said, "For us, its always about being different. Its vital to not be the same. We embrace our sound."

Shakatak scored a number of chart entries, including two Top Ten hits in the UK Singles Chart, "Night Birds" (1982) and "Down on the Street" (1984). The group is still popular in Japan and the Far East, and generally produces a new album each year.
From their first release in August 1980, (the Bill Sharpe composition "Steppin'" on the Polydor record label), and their first album, Drivin' Hard, the band's singles and albums have entered the charts fairly regularly.

It was the release of "Easier Said Than Done" that was to give the band the radio exposure needed for their first top-twenty hit. This record introduced their instrumental-unison vocal sound to a much wider audience, and the track stayed in the UK chart for seventeen weeks. The follow-up, "Night Birds", was their first single to reach the top ten, and the album of the same name gave Shakatak their first gold album, entering at number four and remaining in the charts for twenty-eight weeks. By now a major international act, the success of the release gave them the number-one jazz album slot in Japan, and attracted interest across Europe and South America.

Whilst all this recording activity was going on, the band were also touring extensively through 1982, performing a total of 132 concerts in one year. The band played live shows throughout the UK, Europe, and Japan.

Two more albums – Invitations and Out of This World – were recorded in 1982 and 1983, resulting in several more chart hits, and paving the way for the next major breakthrough in the band's career. With a subtle change in musical direction, yet still retaining the band's identity, Jill Saward (formerly of Fusion Orchestra, Brandy and Citizen Gang) became their lead singer to make Shakatak's fifth album, Down on the Street. The resulting single releases "Down on the Street" and "Watching You" had some success, and brought them attention in new parts of the world. The following year saw the release of the group's first live album, which was recorded in both Tokyo and London.

The seventh album, Day by Day, saw the development of songwriting by all of the band members. In 1986 Saward announced that she was expecting a baby later the same year. This news gave the band an excuse to stop their hectic touring schedule for a while, and concentrate purely on recording. The band were in the top five foreign acts in Japan, and after winning the coveted Silver Award in the Tokyo International Song Festival, Shakatak were asked to produce an extra album each year exclusively for the Japanese market. By this time they had two extra albums released there entitled Into the Blue and Golden Wings. Both sold reasonably well, the latter winning the "Best Instrumental Album 1987" at the Japanese Phonograph Record Association Awards.

However, following this success the band felt it was time that they re-directed their efforts back to singles, and an album for release to the rest of the world. The result was Something Special, closely followed by the night club and chart hit "Mr Manic & Sister Cool" from their next LP, Manic and Cool. In the 1990s the band had great success in the U.S. when they had two albums that went to No 1 in the contemporary jazz charts and were also awarded the Japanese grammy for best international instrumental album six years running. Since 2000 the band has continued to record and tour the world.

It was a nice sunny Sunday here in Toronto and I made a new 80's classic jazz mix with 2 bonus tracks in the end both of which are very popular tunes in Japan & The Philippine Islands they are both the same song, one sang in Nippongo and the other in Tagalog.

I only included songs from the early Shakatak albums. They are still making albums now I will make a complete compilation mix of their albums in the future.

Track numbers 1-6 are all by Hiroshima and track numbers 6-16 are all by Shakatak. The last two tracks are bonus tracks which were requested by a good filipino friend of mine.

Mixed and recorded on the fly. Enjoy!


DBX Enhanced Digital Stereo 44.1 khz, 320 kbps, 166 mb, 1:12:50

01.Roomful Of Mirrors
02.Save Yourself For Me
04.Another Place
05.One Wish
06.Hawaiian Electric
08.Slip Away
09.Easier Said Than Done
10.Day By Day (with Al Jarreau)
11.Steppin' Out
12.Out Of This World
13.Down On The Street
15.Dark Is The Night
17.Hideaki Tokunaga - Saigo No Iiwake
18.Ted Ito - Ikaw Pa Rin

No comments:

Post a Comment