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Album Review

Takashi Hirayasu and Bob Brozman's first collaboration, Jin Jin/Firefly, was such a creative triumph that one hoped the two would someday meet again. Thankfully, it didn't take Okinawan singer/sanshin player Hirayasu and American guitarist Brozman five or ten years to get back together. Jin Jin/Firefly was recorded in 1999, and their next studio encounter, Nankuru Naisa, is a 2001 release. Although the acoustic-oriented albums have some things in common — both combine Okinawan music with elements of rock, blues, and Hawaiian music — Nankuru Naisa is hardly a carbon copy of its predecessor. While Jin Jin/Firefly found Hirayasu and Brozman putting their own spin on traditional Okinawan children's songs, Nankuru Naisa is dominated by Hirayasu's own compositions. This CD only contains two traditional Okinawan songs: "Ayagu" and "Chim Don Don," a familiar melody that Hirayasu wrote lyrics for. One of the musicians who joins Hirayasu and Brozman on some of the material is Mexican-American guitarist David Hidalgo, the fearless leader of Los Lobos since 1973. Hidalgo, who plays accordion on "Aitaina" and requinto guitar on other tracks, is an eclectic, broad-minded player who is well-versed in rock as well as a variety of Latin music — he isn't afraid of a musical challenge, and he demonstrates that Mexican touches can work well on an album with an Okinawan foundation. While Nankuru Naisa is excellent, it isn't long enough — the disc is only 42 minutes long, and one regrets the fact that Hirayasu and Brozman don't provide another half-hour's worth of material. But that's the only thing that's regrettable about this album, which is as charming as it is risk-taking.

Biography

Born: 08 March 1954 in New York, NY

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Multi-instrumentalist, historian, and educator Bob Brozman was born in New York on March 8, 1954. His uncle, Barney Josephson, was a prominent club owner who ran Cafe Society in Greenwich Village, one of the first places in New York,...
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Nankuru Naisa, Bob Brozman
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