By Ben Wood
Saturday, June 8, 1996
Torme sensational in Hawaii concert
MEL TORME was sensational at the Hawaii Theatre Thursday night. Mellow Mel put on one of the best jazz and pops shows I've seen in ages. He sang, he played piano, he played drums, he told jokes, he had the packed audience - which gave him two standing ovations - in the palm of his hand. And he warmed kamaainas, recalling his gig at the Clouds in Waikiki in earlier years and by singing a chorus of "O Makalapua." The man's a historical treasure who should be put on the National Protected Species list. His terrific "Lady Be Good" tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, whom he called "the greatest singer on the planet," came from the heart. He said Ella, who lives near him, has lost both legs to illness and probably won't perform again. Then he tore the place apart with the kind of scat singing she did in her prime. Backed by his trio and sometimes by the Honolulu Symphony, Torme sang vintage hits, giving a bit of history about each. "The Christmas Song," which he wrote, drew huge applause as did "It Might as Well be Spring," "Blue Moon" and "Love for Sale," with Mel and the trio really cutting loose and cooking. It was a night to remember. Come back soon, Mel . . .
THE SYMPHONY, with Aaron Mahi at the helm, was excellent. During the "Porgy and Bess" medley, Mahi's cummerbund slipped to the floor. He was cool. After the medley, he cracked up the crowd with "Don't worry, my pants won't fall off" . . .
COMIC-impressionist Rich Little headlines at the Taste of Honolulu June 29-30 on the City Hall grounds. Little and C&W singer Dita Holyfield perform June 29 at 11 a.m. . . . Coconuts in the Ilikai Hotel is holding a grand opening tomorrow night for its new jazz format. Backstreet will play on Sundays, the Jazz Hawaii Big Band on Mondays, Art of Time on Tuesdays, Rodney Perez and Tropi-Jazz on Wednesdays and 52nd Street on Thursdays . . .
'Eleu Kane hits the spot
Zoe Ann Roach
IT'S EASY to understand why 'Eleu Kane - Damien Farden and Tau Greig - was nominated for a most promising artists Hoku. The singer-musicians have a full, melodious sound coupled with a dash of humor as they do tunes from their 'Eleu Kane album and other island favorites at Harry's Bar in the Hyatt Sunday afternoons. Hula by former Miss Hawaii Zoe Ann Roach add to the enjoyment. They also perform Monday and Wednesday afternoons at the Moana, Fridays at the Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar and for Sunday brunch in the Luana Hills clubhouse, which is open to the public . . . Zoe Ann also subs for dancer Kanoe Miller at the Halekulani's House Without a Key. She is a flight attendant for Aloha and a licensed pilot. She is a volunteer pilot for Hawaii Air Ambulance Service . . .
NORTH AMERICAN Long Drive candidates compete tomorrow at the Hawaii Prince course from 1 to 5 p.m. Qualifiers move on to a district event and then perhaps to the finals in Las Vegas . . . Venus Holt, 90, will be honored at the annual Punahou Alumni Association luau tonight on the school campus with the "O in Life" award, the association's highest honor . . .
On the road to Mandalay
TWENTY years ago, interior designer Phyllis Spalding Bowen and businessman Pundy Yokouchi sat on the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts Board. They opened a store, Mandalay, in Kapalua, specializing in Thai silk clothing for women, silk shirts for men and treasured artifacts. The chain has grown to four stores. The road to Mandalay also winds to the Halekulani, and to Wailea at the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea hotels . . . "Magic of Polynesia" hosts the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii matinee next Saturday at the Hilton Dome. Star John Hirokawa and show execs Roy Tokujo and John Dudley bought a table to benefit Palama Settlement . . .
Ben Wood, who sold the Star-Bulletin in the streets of downtown Honolulu during World War II, writes of people, places and things every Saturday.
Wood Craft by Ben Wood is a Saturday feature of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
© 1996 All rights reserved.