"At The Hilo Farmers Market"
Lou Ann Gurney & Leonard Kudo
She sings and he plays intimate jazz guitar. That's all it takes to make the Big Island duo's debut album a romantic calling card. The title song is an original that sounds like it could be autobiographical -- two single people find true love while shopping at the Hilo landmark. "Pikake," an Andy Cummings composition, is another gem. It opens the album in perfect style.
Most of the other selections are from the pop tradition represented by "Body and Soul" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." They, too, are nicely done.
Kubo is also the album producer, and makes good choices in reinforcing his guitar work with percussion and flute on three songs, and adding a sax player on two others -- the percussion adds a bit more bite, and the sax adds melodic diversity. The absence of synthesized sonic filler gives the project a mature and sophisticated sound.
The artwork of Peggy Chun decorates this anthology by Grammy Award-winning record producer Daniel Ho, and it turns out that this project is almost as much about her as it is about him. A portion of the proceeds -- $2 for every album sold -- will be divided between the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Friends of Peggy, the support group that provides Chun with 24-hour life maintenance services.
Ho provides no specific information about where these songs come from, but they appear to represent a broad swatch of his work as a multifaceted musician, arranger and vocalist. "Along for the Ride" and "Stronger & Stronger" display his range as an engaging singer-songwriter. "Mysteries of the Sea" positions him as a purveyor of pleasant background music. "Sacred Journey" presents the contrasting textures of Ho's guitar and the koto of guest June Kuramoto of Hiroshima fame.
"Dominant Rhythm Archives (Volume 1)
Un-annotated anthologies rarely merit praise for any reason, but this one gets a few brownie points for having the warning "The CD contains previously released material" in large type on the back. Many local recycling projects don't share that information with consumers.
The 15 tracks are culled from solo albums by Dezman, Rod Da Fire and Zacc Kekona, as well as three compilation albums that showcased several other artists. Some are Jawaiian; others are local "urban" balladeers. A highlight is the catchy acoustic number by Ata Damasco that stands out as something different and noteworthy.
Maybe some listeners who didn't previously buy any of those earlier albums will find this combination of recycled material an irresistible package.
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"Holiday In Japan"
This reissue is the third of four albums of Japanese pop hits and cross-cultural curiosities originally released by George Ching on his 49th State Hawaii label sometime between the end of World War II and 1959. It is certain to be welcomed by Japanese Americans who enjoyed these songs in the 1950s.
Would-be buyers should note that these songs were released by HanaOla several years ago on two excellent anthologies, "Club Nisei" and "Club Nisei -- Encore," that contain essential information by Bill Rose that is not included here. That might not be a problem for old-timers who speak fluent Japanese, but all others will find the earlier Club Nisei anthologies a better buy.
, 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. Reach John Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org