Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple Presents HIROSHIMA – an Evening with the Band
The Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple will host an intimate musical evening with the
Grammy-nominated contemporary jazz-fusion band Hiroshima, Friday, May 1, 2015, 8:00pm, at
the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple, 1155 Noche Buena Street, Seaside. Tickets are $50
general admission; $25 children 12 years of age and under. Tickets are available at
Eventbrite.com. This is a fundraising event for the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple.
Founded in 1974, Hiroshima has released 19 albums. Their multi-cultural music mixes jazz,
R&B, pop, Latin, and World with June Kuramoto’s luscious sound of koto. Their debut album,
“Hiroshima” was released in 1979. In 1981, “Winds of Change” received a Grammy nomination
for Best R&B Performance. For their 19th album, “J-Town Beat” Dan Kuramoto said, “J-Town
refers to Japan Town USA… it’s a microcosm of all the multi-cultural communities that make
America the most diverse country in the world, and how better to reflect that than in music?”
Vibrant, eclectic and truly original, the 2010 Grammy-nominated Hiroshima creates a musical
world all its own.
In 1971, Duke Ellington recorded an album entitled The Afro-Eur-asian Eclipse. As part of that
work, Ellington proclaimed “that whole world was going [Asian],” and that no one
would know “who was in the shadow of whom.”
The celebrated ensemble known as Hiroshima is the fulfillment of Ellington’s prophecy. In the
more than three decades since they first convened, the Los Angeles-based ensemble of Dan
Kuramoto (keyboards/ woodwinds/ composer/ producer), virtuoso June Kuramoto (koto/
composer), Kimo Cornwell (piano/ keyboards/ composer), Danny Yamamoto
(drums/percussion), Dean Cortez (bass) have blended jazz, pop, and rock with traditional
Japanese folk music and instruments. The resulting sound was a pioneering voice in the
contemporary world music movement of the late 20th century.
Ever evolving, the 2010 Grammy-nominated group, highlighted by the sound of June
Kuramoto’s shimmering koto (noted by Stanley Clarke to be the world’s best) creates music and
sounds totally unique–with depth, heart and soul.
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 given the
changes in the music industry and what it’s now going to take to survive.
For Hiroshima – which takes its name from the Japanese city that sustained a nuclear blast
during World War II, yet rose phoenix-like from its own ashes – the “ride” began in the polyglot
metropolis of Los Angeles. Of all of the members, only June Kuramoto was born in Japan. She
arrived in Los Angeles when she was six and lived in an African-American neighborhood.
ABOUT THE BAND
JUNE KURAMOTO, koto
Born in Saitama-ken, Japan and raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, June epitomizes
America’s evolving art and music culture. Almost by destiny renowned koto master Madame
Kazue Kudo, protégé of Japan’s most famous kotoist and composer Michio Miyagi, immigrated
to the United States and began teaching koto in June’s family home. Using her grandmother’s
koto, June, only six years old, found a ‘connection’ for her life in the instrument and Japanese
Subsequently June received classical degrees in koto from the Miyagi School of Koto in Japan
through Kudo Sensei (teacher). Along the way she has performed with some of the greatest
musicians in the classical world from Japanese masters to Ravi Shankar. But being an American
artist she wanted somehow to integrate this music that is her life with the American culture
and music that she loves.
June met an eccentric artist-musician named Dan, and they began merging her koto music with
the diverse musical environment of Los Angeles. This was the beginning of Hiroshima. June has
since been the driving artistic force of Hiroshima creating a multicultural musical statement.
Her many recording credits include George Duke, Manhattan Transfer, Taste of Honey, Teddy
Pendergrass, Stanley Clarke, Keiko Matsui, Angela Bofill, David Benoit, and Ozomatli. She can
also be heard on television and movie scores including “Heroes (NBC),” “East Meets West (Food
Channel),” “Simply Ming (PBS),” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Last Samurai,” and “Black
Rain.” Commercials include Suntory Light (Japan) and Hawaiian Electric Company (Hawaii).
DAN KURAMOTO, woodwinds, keyboards, shakuhachi
A college art student from East Los Angeles, supporting himself by working as a sports specialist
for L.A. County parks and recreation, Dan picked up the flute as a kind of diversion to his post-
hippy lifestyle. With the evolution of ethnic studies on the college campus, and armed with a
bachelor’s in fine arts (painting and drawing), he found himself as the first department
chairman of Asian-American studies at Cal State University at Long Beach. Searching for a
‘voice,’ as an Asian-American and an artist, he continued to teach for three years, but decided
that university life was not immediate enough for him. He also found that playing music for
various community fund-raisers provided a kind of expression that became a passion.
Fueled by the work of the jazz artists he loved, and the incredible creative energy of
contemporaries like Earth, Wind and Fire, Santana, and Jimi Hendrix, Dan saw music as the
vehicle to give voice to his Japanese-American heritage, and to claim what he feels is America’s
greatest resource — its diversity. He then met June and her virtuosity as a classical Japanese
musician, and her desire to create a ‘new music’ inspired their collaboration that became the
birth of Hiroshima. Principal composer, producer and leader of the band, his voluminous credits
include musical arranger for the Los Angeles and New York productions of “Zoot Suit,” Emmy
winning composer for “Bean Sprouts,” composer, Showtime mini-series, “Home Fires,” and
over 30 plays and movies. His shakuhachi credits include, “Black Rain,” “Pearl Harbor,” “The
Thin Red Line,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
KIMO CORNWELL, piano, keyboards
Kimo (Hawaiian for James), was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. This amiable keyboard genius of
Hawaiian, Chinese and English ancestry grew up in Kalihi and graduated from Farrington High
School. Blessed with the love of music and a palate for ‘plate lunch,’ Kimo soon became renown
as one of the best keyboard players from the islands.
After playing and recording with most of the top groups in Hawaii, Kimo moved to Los Angeles
to try his hand in the ‘mainland’ music scene. Immediately discovered by touring groups, Kimo
hit the road first with Cheryl Lynn (“To Be Real”), and then with a succession of artists including
Ronnie Laws, John Klemmer, Al Jarreau, Frankie Beverly and Maze – and Hiroshima. During the
mid-eighties, sought after by Hiroshima, Jarreau, and Maze, he chose to become a fulltime
mainstay with the band. Working in the capacity of keyboardist, composer, arranger and
producer he has become part of the heart and soul of the band and its music.
He continues to work with other artists, writing and producing, and has worked on several
record film and television projects with Dan as co-composer and arranger.
DANNY YAMAMOTO, drums, percussion, taiko
A graduate of Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, Danny has had a lifelong love affair with
music. Beginning with the accordion, reflective of his eclectic tastes in art and music, he has
played virtually all the instruments in a band, but as a tool for self-expression, the drums
became his voice. At Dorsey, he found himself in a jazz trio along with bassist (now musician-
producer) Larry Klein and pianist (now Downbeat award-winning jazz keyboardist) Billy Childs.
After such a luminous start, he settled in as a music major at UCLA, expanding into
ethnomusicology. Playing and recording with a variety of groups, he also became involved with
Hiroshima, ultimately becoming a principal member. He has continued to both study and
perform in a myriad of musical settings, from TV and film sessions to taiko gigs. After a
significant tenure studying drumming techniques with the renowned Freddy Gruber, he has
himself become a teacher.
DEAN CORTEZ, bass
Originally from Miami Beach, Florida, Dean comes from a musical family (his dad was a
touring percussionist), and started out playing string bass in youth symphonies. His family
moved to Southern California, where he added the electric bass. By the time he graduated high
school, Dean was the regular bassist with the famed Latin percussionist/singer Wille Bobo. A
founding member of the seminal Latin-fusion band ‘Caldera,’ Dean recorded two albums with
them before becoming the bassist on the Boz Skaggs World Tour.
He has since played on over 300 recording sessions, ranging from film, television, and
records—including Hiroshima’s first release in 1979. Having played on virtually every Hiroshima
album as a session bassist, Dean became a regular in the band during the “East (1988)” tour.
On the web, Hiroshima website: www.hiroshimamusic.com
Contact: Rev. Jay Shinseki