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East West by East West

East West fancies its music as "music you haven’t heard before." In some ways, that may be true. In other ways, quite the contrary. This is very good music, the basic style of which I have heard before. Lest we forget the world-famous Hiroshima, I must beg to differ with the more general assertion. Perhaps the group’s style is a bit more esoteric and ethnic than Hiroshima, and perhaps its frequent Latin/Caribbean slant is what makes the difference. Still, as I’ve said, this is very good music, enhanced by the Japanese koto, the instrument also perfected by Hiroshima’s June Kuramoto. It is, as one newspaper put it, "The musical equivalent to sunshine."

The group is comprised of West Coast musicians, including Japanese-American kotoist Reiko Obata who, among her accomplishments, received a koto master’s degree from the Seiha Conservatory of Japanese Music.

East West does employ some very pleasant effects to define a bluesier sound, as demonstrated on "Comin’ Home Baby," the opening track. It then launches into a light island-flavored yet also a somewhat bluesy offering, "Black Orpheus," that is both sweet and docile. The koto’s presence is unarguably the rock of the recording. The group’s interpretation of the classic "Summertime" with Latin overtones is truly a listening treat. Track 9, "Sly," caught me a bit off-guard, but in a pleasant way. A bit more smooth jazz/R&B and a touch of funk in the rhythm give this one a very bouncy familiar sound yet takes on a distinct difference when coupled with the koto and a very active bass. Interesting marriage there.

East West is a welcome addition to the jazz scene and, I would think, to one’s collection.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: East West
  • CD Title: East West
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Independant Release
  • Rating: Two Stars
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