Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The Brothers Cazimero's last May Day concert at the Waikiki Shell has been commemorated on DVD.

May Day memories

"The Brothers Cazimero 25th Annual May Day Concert" DVD
(The Mountain Apple Co., $24.99)

Review by John Berger

The Cazimeros' 25th Annual May Day Concert at the Waikiki Shell last May was a triumph for them in every respect. This album -- their first to be released only in DVD -- captures the magic of the performance perfectly. Judged simply as an audio recording, this live album favorably compares with the best concert albums issued over the years by mainland artists -- Ike and Tina Turner's 1971 masterpiece, "Live at Carnegie Hall/What You Hear is What You Get," for example. Add the visuals and this takes the Brothers, their music and the concert experience to a higher level.

For instance, kumu hula Leina'ala Kalama Heine has been such an integral part of the brothers' stage shows over the years that she's sometimes referred to as "the third brother," but because 'Ala doesn't sing, her contributions as a dancer have been absent from the Cazimeros' recorded work. On this DVD, her contributions can be fully appreciated.

Not that the brothers themselves aren't great subjects in their own right, but one of the concert highlights is a "There Goes Leina'ala" segment that showcases the inimitable 'Ala at her comic best, while dressed and coifed in a style the Brothers describe as "James Brown in drag."

Of greater cultural significance is footage of several pieces from Roland Cazimero's musical epic, "Pele," that begins the second half of the concert. May Day was only the second time that songs from Roland's 1979 solo album had been performed with singers and dancers as a Hawaiian-musical-in-progress; this DVD marks the first time that performance footage has been available.

Then there's the closing performance of "The Grand Man Hawaiian Band +1," consisting of Manu Boyd, Tony Conjugacion, Keao "Boodles" Costa, Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, Kaipo Hale, Henry Kapono Ka'aihue, the Makaha Sons, Kenneth Makuakane, Sean Na'auao, Jerry Santos and Glen Smith. It is a great moment in contemporary Hawaiian music, greater than the sum of the audio performances because you can see the members of this all-star band interacting on stage.

And throughout the show, brother Robert gave a career-best performance as the duo's primary spokesman. Roland's pithy asides were excellent as well.

The Brothers' new album shows that Mountain Apple Co. CEO Jon de Mello can embellish a Cazimero recorded project with the same creativity and imagination he's applied for years to their concerts and stage shows. The DVD succeeds by giving the viewer the best seat in the house, while offering fresh visual perspectives on the brothers as well.

If you're one of the ever-shrinking number of people without a DVD player, this beautiful DVD-only album is as good a reason as any to buy one.

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