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While the north and south sides of the border get together in this weekend's Friendship Festival, the Los Angeles pop-jazz group Hiroshima will be uniting East and West in shows at 8 and 11 p.m. Saturday in the Marquee at the Tralf. A quintet of Japanese-Americans, they've merged the ancient sound of the traditional 13-string koto with modern keyboard electronics. With a series of six albums since 1979, they've built a devoted following and broken into a broad range of radio formats, from jazz to Top 40.

Newest addition to the group is singer Machun Taylor, a native New Yorker of Japanese heritage whose career prior to Hiroshima covered an equally broad range. She did stints as a background singer on tours with Foreigner, Pat Benatar, George Benson and Pink Floyd. She had just finished a year on the road with Pink Floyd when Hiroshima called in 1988.

"It's been really a nice transition," Taylor said last week by phone from her home in California. "Musically you can see the progression in the band. Each record has gotten a little more interesting and diversified. The 'East' album, which was my first with the band, was more of a statement of being truly eclectic and commercially viable. We're going to be even more so on the next record." -- Dale Anderson

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