Music News & Reviews

Mixing musical genres, Hiroshima promotes multiculturalism

Hiroshima, from left, is Danny Yamamoto, Dan Kuramoto, Kimo Cornwell, Dean Cortez and June Kuramoto.
Hiroshima, from left, is Danny Yamamoto, Dan Kuramoto, Kimo Cornwell, Dean Cortez and June Kuramoto. Courtesy of the Crest Theatre

Dan Kuramoto believes the 1945 bombings of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be remembered, not out of resentment or fear, but as a cultural learning experience for all people.

The nuclear bombings represented a lot to the Kuramoto family as people of Japanese descent “but even more so as Americans,” he said.

That’s why the composer and music producer is in the Los Angeles-based contemporary jazz fusion band Hiroshima.

“Our band, Hiroshima, is an American concept,” Kuramoto said of the group, which he describes as an “east meets west” contemporary jazz fusion band. There are four other members: June Kuramoto, Kimo Cornwell, Danny Yamamoto and Dean Cortez.

The multicultural band will perform Saturday, Sept. 26, in Sacramento to raise funds for the Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Asian/Pacific Islander history through sports and cultural programs. SASF hopes to expand its facility for activities and social events to increase its community outreach, said volunteer Eric Wong.

Hiroshima, which formed in 1974, hopes to change preconceived images of Asian Americans and other minorities through its sound and lyrics, Kuramoto said.

Explaining the origin of the band, Kuramoto said he realized that the people he was seeing in the media were not the Asian American, Jewish, Hispanic or African American populations he commonly saw growing up in East Los Angeles, he said.

He wanted to share the diverse richness of his childhood across cultures, taking inspiration from favorite artists John Legend, Marvin Gaye and Carlos Santana, who merged art with social consciousness.

“To me, making a kind of multicultural statement would correspond with my own multicultural reality,” he said. “It’s saying things that you mean and playing notes that you want to connect to other people visually and spiritually.”

Hiroshima’s musical style is a combination of Latin, jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, and Japanese, with June Kuramoto playing the koto, a traditional Japanese-style instrument.

Most of the songs tell universal stories involving love and heartbreak.

“We are telling stories that are embarrassingly real in our songs,” Dan Kuramoto said.

As the band prepares to enter its 40th year, Kuramoto said he hopes the music can correct false views held about Asian Americans and other minority groups.

“I’m talking about it so … we can move forward with much more honor and dignity,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it with style, with creative, with compassion, with sexy.”

An Evening with Hiroshima

What: Benefit for the Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation

When: 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26

Where: Crest Theatre 1013 K St., Sacramento

Cost: $40-$50

Information: www.ticketfly.com, www.sasfquest.org; www.facebook.com/hiroshimamusic; 916-391-6000

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