Island Mele


POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2009

”;Hawaiian Man”;

Brother Noland
(Mountain Apple Co.)

; Brother Noland Conjugacion holds an important place in local music as a pioneer of Jawaiian music. He was the third Hawaii artist, after Billy Kaui (”;Mr. Reggae”;) and Henry Kapono Kaaihue (”;Stand in the Light”;), to record a significant reggae-influenced song. His Jawaiian breakthrough song, “;Coconut Girl,”; continues to resonate more than 25 years later. But before “;Coconut Girl,”; and before he became leader of an obscure band named Solbrea, Conjugacion also played Hawaiian music. Working here with an acoustic studio band that includes Led Kaapana, Mike Kaawa and Kawika Kahiapo, he returns to those roots in Grammy Award-worthy style.

It is always interesting when an artist revisits his own work. Noland does that with “;Pua Lane,”; the most enduring song from his little-known debut album, “;Speaking Brown.”; The opening riffs are instantly recognizable and the sparse acoustic arrangement makes it easy to appreciate the musicians' work.

Noland took a commercial risk in his “;Speaking Brown”; days with “;Look What They've Done,”; an indictment of excessive “;development”; in Waikiki. He expresses his nationalist sentiments here with a beautiful, gentle medley of “;Aloha Pono'i”;/”;Hawai'i Aloha.”; He writes in the liner notes that it is “;designed to trip you out.”;

He pays homage to Hawaii's musical traditions with personal arrangements of “;Henehene Kau Ako,”; “;Royal Hawaiian Hotel”; and “;My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua, Hawai'i”; that present them as contemporary acoustic Hawaiian music. He also reinterprets Eaton “;Bob”; Magoon's comic classic, “;Mr. Sun Cho Lee,”; with new lyrics and melodic embellishments.

Brief narrative passages, and Nol's mid-song directions to other musicians, add to the feel of an informal but well-planned performance.


;» ”;Ka Ipo Lei Manu”;
;» ”;Royal Hawaiian Hotel”;
;» ”;Pua Lane”;

”;Ride Time”;

Troy Fernandez
(Mountain Apple Co.)

; It has been several years since ukulele virtuoso Troy Fernandez last worked with Ernie Cruz Jr., but although the Ka'au Crater Boys are pau for now, Fernandez has not been idle as a musician and recording artist. With “;Ride Time”; he again explores the subjects that interest him most—surfing, his family and the ukulele.

Despite the presence of a second person on the cover, this rates as a legitimate “;solo”; album; Fernandez plays most of the instruments, he wrote 11 of the 12 songs and co-wrote the other. The tempos and styles vary—Jawaiian rhythms here, a hint of country harmonies there—but Fernandez's ukulele artistry gives them a common denominator and makes the album an appealing unified collection of original music.

Songs about surfing and surf spots have been part of Fernandez's song book for years—as a Crater Boy and also as a solo artist. The title song is a catchy salute to the local surf scene in general. “;Surfing on the East Side”; and “;Down by the Ocean, Down by the Sea”; honor specific surfing locales and individuals.

“;Waikiki”; honors “;the place I learned to surf.”; It too is a completely original piece that owes nothing to Andy Cummings' hapa-haole classic.

Fernandez speaks for loving fathers everywhere with “;And I Love Her/Them So,”; a zesty Caribbean-style song written for his daughters. It is one of four family songs that show his softer side.


;» ”;Surfing On The East Side”;
;» ”;Ride Time”;
;» ”;Love In Her Eyes”;

”;Live From the Operating Room”;

Dr. Jorge G. Camara
(Live From the OR)

; Pianist (and surgeon) Camara writes in the liner notes that classical music can “;decrease the need for sedatives and painkillers”; during surgical procedures, help lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Although relatively few of us stressed-out Hawaii residents are likely to have Camara play for us personally as part a preparation for eye surgery, his beautiful renditions of selections by Beethoven, Ravel and other composers are a perfect antidote to daily stress in more conventional settings.

Slip it into your CD player, take a deep breath or two, and let Chopin's “;Nocturne in E-flat”; draw you into 40-minutes of tranquility.


;» ”;Nocturne in Eb”;
;» ”;Etude in E Major”;
;» ”;Moonlight Sonata”;