Island Mele


POSTED: Friday, April 10, 2009


Harry Kalahiki

; Michael Cord takes on the task of reissuing the out-of-print back catalog of another long-dormant Hawaiian record label with the release of two albums from the old Tradewinds label. This was the label's first album; originally released as “;Mungo Plays Ukulele”; (Tradewinds LP-101), it was hailed at the time as the first-ever album of ukulele instrumentals, and Harry “;Mungo”; Kalahiki was described in the liner notes as “;unique among ukulele players in that his taste veers to the classic and semi-classic.”;

Hawaiian music historians aware of the work of the Ukulele Rascals—Eddie Kamae and Shoi Ikemi—might question if Kalahiki's interest in Western classical music was “;unique,”; but the Rascals never recorded, and Kalahiki's album put the idea out there.

The backing musicians (bass and drums) are distractions, but Kalahiki's long-forgotten arrangements of “;Galop (The Comedians),”; “;September Song”; and “;Claire De Lune”; are certain to inspire a new generation of would-be virtuosos.


;» ”;Galop (The Comedians)”;
;» ”;Granada”;
;» ”;Muskrat Ramble”;

”;Nelson Waikiki, Ukulele Stylist”;

Nelson Waikiki

; Nelson Waikiki debuted on Tradewinds as a member of Paschoal's Gray Line Troubadours, but got solo billing when the group returned to the studio a few months later. As with “;Mungo Plays Ukulele,”; this was an instrumental project, but Waikiki had seven musicians behind him, playing guitar, bass, four ukuleles, and a switch-hitter who doubled on ukulele and accordion.

The repertoire is even more cosmopolitan than “;Mungo”;—“;Misty,”; “;Yellow Bird,”; “;Kokoni Sachi-ari”; and a “;Philippine Themes”; medley are found along with “;Nani Waimea”; and an imaginative deconstruction of “;Hi'ilawe.”;

Since I've criticized many labels and producers for failing to update reissues and provide information the original producers failed to include, I must note that these two reissues have not been updated. On the other hand, they retail for $9.99—less per song as a “;hard copy”; album than as a set of legal downloads. 'Nuff said!


;» ”;Hi'ilawe (Slack Key ukulele)”;
;» ”;Misty”;
;» ”;Philippine Themes”;

”;Ave Maria”;


; “;Better late than never”; may be the initial reaction to this seasonal single by Allison Chu, but give the girl a break and consider it a head start on Christmas 2009. Almost all child entertainers start off as “;cute”; rather than talented, but Chu's talents as a singer and actress progressed beyond the adorable child stage several years ago. Her renditions of the title song and “;Christmas Island”; are those of a talented young woman.

And, with “;Uncle Al”; Ka'ai of the old time Makapu'u Sand Band adding ukulele and slack key guitar to producer Pierre Grill's keyboards, the project sounds more like a commercial release than a performer's demo. Count “;Ave Maria”; as another step forward in Chu's blossoming career as a recording artist.


;» ”;Ave Maria”;
;» ”;Christmas Island”;

”;Happy Aloha Friday”;

Aloha Joe & Brenda
(Aloha Joe Productions)

; “;Aloha Friday,”; Kimo Kahoano's ever-popular musical signature, is a snapshot of an era when weekends were the time to go to “;da disco.”; Times have changed since then, and Aloha Joe, record producer and on-line Hawaiian radio pioneer, offers a different perspective with this entirely new composition. Joe and his female recording partner define weekends as a time when men want to relax—and their significant others want them to take on a long list of household chores!

Sooner or later, someone will probably record this song for commercial release. In the meantime, Joe's fans can get his limited-edition artist's demo at http://www.alohajoe.com.


;» ”;Happy Aloha Friday”;