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Tuesday, May 19, 1998

IZ in concert.

The legacy of Iz lives on
in a classic collection

By John Berger

Special to the Star-Bulletin


FANS of Israel Kamakawiwo''ole would have snapped up even a generic greatest-hits album, but this collection gives them so much more.

IZ -- his managers say he will officially be remembered in capital letters -- died last June. "IZ in Concert" celebrates his life and leaves no question that the man was unique.

IZ in Concert Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (Big Boy/Mountain Apple Co.)

Executive producer Jon de Mello brings a fresh perspective to familiar songs by presenting them as performed in concerts from "The United States to Miloli'i" between 1993 and 1997.

De Mello reaches back to include "Maragarita," a hit from the solo album IZ recorded while still with Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau. Included also are concert versions of "E Ala E" and " 'n Dis Life," and IZ's revival of "Hawai'i '78."

IZ captured the hearts and minds of his fans with his ability to command a stage. De Mello and producer Gaylord Holomalia include enough of his comments between songs to recreate some classic moments and reveal his feelings about being a Hawaiian in contemporary Hawaii.

IZ's deeply felt philosophies about about Hawaii and Hawaiian sovereignty come through on several selections. Others capture his sense of humor. "Hene Hene Kou Aka" is a fine example of his kolohe, or naughty, backyard repertoire. "E Ku'u Morning Dew" shows how smoothly he could adopt and adapt a song already so well known.

Multiple concert intros and finales mark this as a journey through IZ's solo years, each selection adding another piece to the musical portrait. Together they capture his spirit as well as his songs.

Composers' credits and such would have added to the historical value of this portrait -- concert times and places, for example, aren't even part of the annotation.

But IZ fans aren't going to complain. This is a great portrait of a uniquely talented Hawaiian.


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