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Island Mele
Friday, March 30, 2001

By John Berger

Musician Kawai Cockett, right, gets a hug from
longtime fan Sugar Romanek of Diamond Head
Sunday night at Gordon Biersch during Cockett's
CD release party.

Hula! Hula! Hula!

Kawai Cockett (Hula CDHS-614)

KAWAI COCKETT HAS LONG BEEN recognized as a cultural treasure. His recordings are impeccably traditionalist in style and presentation. He is also one of those rare modern Hawaiians who was raised speaking Hawaiian as his first language and who learned English only when he started school. Cockett's status as a "native-speaker" makes his recordings of interest to language students as well.

"Hula! Hula! Hula!" is already a hit with Hawaiian music fans. Cockett is as strong and romantic a singer as ever. His work on 'ukulele evokes the same grass-roots, rural Hawaiian traditions. Sam Septimo (acoustic guitar) and Charlie Wahineho'okae (acoustic bass) join him as the core musicians and harmonize behind him. Casey Olsen (steel guitar) and Alma Ahuna (piano) add bright melodic details to the arrangements.



Cockett's use of chant draws attention to the poetic description of the four largest islands found in "Na Moku Kaulana (The Famous Islands)." "Maka 'Alohilohi (Twinkling Eyes)," written by Septimo for his daughter, adds a modern hapa-haole song to the collection.

The music and the performances are exquisite, but a perfect Hawaiian album also helps preserve and shares knowledge of the our native culture and language. Lyrics in Hawaiian with their English translations offer up valuable information.

Jean "Kini" Sullivan's knowledgeable annotation shares some of the stories behind the songs, notes some subtleties in the arrangements and hints at some of the kaona (hidden meanings) in the lyrics as well.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Ku'u Lei Onaona
Bullet Na Moku Kaulana
Bullet Na Limahana
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

Tiny CD: With a Tiny
Help From My Friends

Various artists (Score SRD100)

TINY TADANI ADDS RECORD record producer to his resume with this compilation album featuring his favorite singers and favorite songs. Almost all the songs are remakes but Tadani, David Tucciarone, and some of the artists, come up with some interesting ideas in redoing them.

One of the best is bringing together Ellsworth Simeona, Dita Holifield and Rocky Brown on "Afternoon Delight." The three come from different backgrounds but their voices blend nicely. The Starland Vocal Band hit is reworked with a solid dance beat and an appealing blend of sweetness and romantic energy on the vocals.

The sound of "Tiny CD" overall is light and poppy but there are other textures as well. Brown does a beautiful job with a solo rendition of "Follow Your Road." Her straight forward interpretation of Seawind's signature song is a fine showcase for her and a national hit waiting to be discovered.

Simeona likewise brings a clean pop-rock vocal perspective to a light reggae-beat arrangement of "We Just Disagree."

Bruddah Sam and Lina Girl are already known recording artists through their work with other groups. "Local Kine Grindz" is a catchy theme for their TV show and the couple shares a romantic side on "So Amazing."

The biggest surprise though is 12-year-old Tani Lynn Fujimoto and "Everlasting Place." The song is one of Tadani's most obscure choices.

Tadani sings "The Lady Wants to Know" with an assist from his son, Taylor. Jeff Rasmussen gets the spotlight on "Bluer Than Blue" and "Crazy Love," and the girls of Forte make a promising return with a cute and commercial Jawaiian-lite approach to the Stylistics' classic, "Stone in Love With You."

Mpeg Audio Clips

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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