Island Mele

By John Berger

Friday, August 20, 1999

Ohta-san pays tribute
to his pets



Bullet DUO I'll Keep Remembering: By Herb Ohta (M&H Hawaii - MHCD1421)

UKULELE master Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta mourns the death of two beloved pets with his latest instrumental album. Two original requiems, "I'll Keep Remembering" and "Taro & Mika," commemorate the pooches while he also displays his eclectic repertoire with interpretations of works by writers as diverse as Richard Rodgers and Dizzy Gillespie. If there's a common theme, Ohta doesn't share it, although the liner notes do reveal he did the sessions with a broken thumbnail.

Bruce Hamada (bass) and Jimmy Funai (guitar) join Ohta in creating the clean acoustic arrangements. The interplay between Ohta and Funai makes these recordings especially interesting.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet I'll Keep Remembering
Bullet My Heart Belongs To Daddy
Bullet My Favorite Things
Bullet Taro & Mika
Quicktime | MPEG-3 info



Bullet Namahana: By Hapa (Coconut Grove - CG 8203-02)

HAPA -- Keli'i Kaneali'i and Barry Flanagan -- found Hawaii wasn't ready for them when they recorded and released two albums almost simultaneously in 1997. "In The Name Of Love" was a powerful and well-executed leap beyond the artistic frontiers of their popular 1993 debut. "Surf Madness," a trip through the surf rock sound of the early 1960s attributed to "Axel and Berneldo," revealed a surprising facet of their repertoire.

Neither album came close to the commercial success of their debut.

This one returns to the proven template and it is a fine homecoming. The mix of soft ballads and soft instrumentals -- some originals, some not -- captures the musical chemistry between Kaneali'i as the appealing lead vocalist and Flanagan as the virtuoso guitarist. Their smooth harmonies and instrumental arrangements tie everything together.

Flanagan and co-producer Ken Makuakane use an eclectic mix of guests ranging from the Honolulu String Ensemble to "Loud Larry" Lieberman to embellish the arrangements in places where less quality conscious folks would use synthetics. The warmth and textures make each song delightful.

The combination of Hawaiian traditions with those of Flanagan's Celtic ancestors makes "Aloha Namahana" a brilliant finale and a memorable requiem for Lydia Namahanaikaleleokalani Maioho. It is clearly the single most memorable track.

However, remakes of Earl Klugh's "Debra Anne" and Jerry Santos' "Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u" find Hapa as accomplished and cosmopolitan as ever. A masterful treatment of "He'eia" is another highlight. Beautiful artwork, song lyrics and translations, and additional annotation, complete this impressive album.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Debra Anne
Bullet He'eia
Bullet Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u
Bullet Aloha Namahana
Quicktime | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, 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.

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