"Come and See... Hawaii"
Tradition-minded listeners who enjoy the Brothers Cazimero and the Makaha Sons will also enjoy Na Kama. The duo of Brian Mersberg and Eric Lee enlisted a squad of studio musicians in recording a diverse collection of hapa-haole and Hawaiian standards, plus originals. The hapa-haole standards predominate.
So do the arrangements. It sounds like "Come and See ... Hawaii" is intended to provide support for hula as well, and is therefore a trip through familiar but doubly important musical territory. The hapa-haole songs are treated with respect, and "Nani Wai'ale'ale" is an especially stirring nod to tradition. The duo's own hapa-haole songs are beautiful as well, "Kehaulani" in particular.
Even though a touch of synthesizer mars one mix, the use of violin, cello, harp, steel guitar and other instruments gives the album an overall clean and properly organic sound.
Regidor's second album is a big step forward for him and his production team. His clean, teen-oriented romantic appeal is effectively presented with much less reliance on pop remakes and generic Jawaiian arrangements. Rikki L and producer Bob St. John did the vocal and instrumental arrangements, so it's a triumph for them, too.
The two also collaborated with Regidor on "Poor Boy from Maui," one of the more commercially promising songs. With the addition of O-shen's authentic Melanesian rap, it's a catchy autobiographical song worthy of play on our self-styled island music radio stations.
St. John adds an interesting twist in his sequencing of "Paradise" by front-loading it with the Jawaiian songs, then slipping in a soft local pop tune, and saving the beautiful Hawaiian songs for last. Regidor wrote two of them, and includes lyrics for all three.
"Mister Bassman Swings Low!"
R. Kurt Productions
Kurt has an extremely deep bass voice, and after years of working in groups where the tenors and falsetto vocalists sang lead, he's stepping out as a soloist. On this self-produced album, his voice is the lead throughout. Some of his picks are proven material for men who sing in the lower registers -- "Sixteen Tons" and "Sixty Minute Man," for example. Some of the others could become so, "King of the Road" and "House of the Rising Sun."
The one original song, "Mister Bassman's Back!" establishes the concept.
The one problematic choice is "Old Man River" -- hearing anyone sing the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein standard is just grating to contemporary ears.
But a bigger problem is that Kurt's music tracks are barely better than karaoke. The packaging may make for a proper demo, but this is not a ready-for-market album.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org