Takashi Hirayasu & Bob Brozman

A couple of years ago, Hirayasu and Brozman met for the first time on a small island in Japan’s Ryukyu archipelago; they rented an old house with the express purpose of making music. Hirayasu, a sanshin (think snakeskin banjo) virtuoso who’d played guitar in bands catering to American military audiences before rediscovering the joys of traditional Okinawan music, and Brozman, a stringed-instrument master with an affinity for island music, hit it off; the result was Jin Jin/Firefly, an album filled with pure magic. Now they know each other better, and they got together last year at Brozman’s Santa Cruz digs for more music-making—this time with drummer Rick Walker, bassist Piper Heisig and, on some cuts, Los Lobos multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo. Hirayasu sings in Okinawan Japanese; around his voice, he and the players weave a gorgeous tapestry of sound that should make you smile beatifically.