Island Mele
Friday, October 25, 2002

By John Berger



"Sunday Morning"

Jake Shimabukuro
Four Strings

Jake Shimabukuro opens a new chapter in his impressive career with the release of his first album as a solo artist (a shorter solo album was released in Japan a while ago). The selections reaffirm both his technical brilliance on the 'ukulele and the breadth of his musical horizons.

Shimabukuro's imaginative reworking of Nicolo Paganini's "Selec- tions from Caprice No. 24," a piece written for violin, is the obvious standout here and an excellent example of what the 'ukulele is capable of under Shimabukuro's more-than-capable hands. Its distinctive pure sound is heightened by the absence of other instruments.

He also offers fresh perspectives in texture and tempo with family pop/rock standards "Sleep Walk" and "My Heart Will Go On," and explores the electronic possibilities with "Toastmaster's Revenge." A new recording of his "Crazy G," recorded live during a set at Chai's Island Bistro, showcases his stage appeal.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Selections from Caprice No. 24
Bullet My Heart Will Go On
Bullet Sleep Walk
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info




Ata Damasco

Multi-talented Ata Damasco's second album for the Maui-based Ululoa label is a significant step forward for him -- it should establish him as an artist of note well beyond the Valley Island. Anyone who appreciates traditionalist Hawaiian music will find much to enjoy in Damasco's smooth falsetto singing and clean, synthesizer-free arrangements (Damasco plays 'ukulele, guitar, piano, acoustic bass, accordion and ipu. Several studio guests add steel guitar and backing vocals).

Most of the songs are Hawaiian standards --"Mauna Loa" and "Green Rose Hula," for example -- and all are beautifully done. Five originals offer fresh images of Hawaii, as Damasco writes of home, family, special places and a hula halau's victory. He provides the Hawaiian lyrics and translations for his songs but is keeping many secondary meanings (kaona) concealed. "Aia Ni'ihau" is particularly interesting in that respect.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet He Aloha No O Waianae
Bullet Nani Wale E Pakala
Bullet Mauna Loa
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"A Place Called Hawaii"

Various artists

Mike Cord's HanaOla label is well known for the high quality of its anthology albums. This one is somewhat unusual since most of the selections are of relatively recent vintage and some are even currently available on other labels. The quality is as high as always, however, and there are enough relatively rare songs to make it worth purchasing.

The big hits include Jon & Randy's "Hawaiian Soul," Nohelani Cypriano's bilingual "You Are So Beautiful," Country Comfort's "Waimanalo Blues" and "Aloha Is" by Moe Keale. "Soft Green Seas" by someone named Alapaki, and Don Tiki's charming "An Occasional Man" aren't hits, but are worth hearing. And everyone who didn't buy into the ineptly managed "Home In The Islands 2000" campaign can now enjoy the theme song. It's here, too!

All in all, this unusual anthology offers a pleasant cross-section of hits, almost-hits and local obscurities. It makes for good listening throughout.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet A Place Called Hawaii performed by Nathan Aweau
Bullet Hawaiian Soul performed by Jon Osorio and Randy Borden
Bullet Wahine 'Ilikea performed by Na 'Oiwi
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Today
section on Fridays for the latest reviews. Contact John Berger at

E-mail to Features Editor

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