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.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson