Island Mele


POSTED: Friday, January 02, 2009

”;Life Goes On”;

Hawaiian Time
(Lanai Boyz)

; The first new album from Hawaiian Time in almost a decade contains 10 new songs plus another eight from their '90s albums. With a suggested retail price of $9.99, it is a savvy “;comeback”; project in all respects. The rhythm section provides the reggae-style vibe essential for play on Hawaii's self-styled “;island music”; radio stations, and with all four of the Romano brothers performing as lead vocalists, there is plenty of depth there.

The group opens strong with a musical history lesson, “;Kamehameha the Great.”; The song revisits a subject they covered in the '90s with “;Imua Kamehameha,”; and both songs are perfect examples of how music can be used to educate as well as entertain.

Three of the brothers—Julian, John and Kekai—are composers, and they do good commercial work with radio-friendly songs about local women (”;The Girl Is Hot,”; “;Island Beauty”;) and relationships. Julian steps forward on a pair of romantic tunes as the lead voice on “;Praying On a Dream”; and “;Your Lips On Mine.”; “;Hang Over,”; one of the eight oldies, offers a humorous look at the results of overdrinking.

Credit the group with being more professional than many of their Jawaiian colleagues, in that they credit the composers of the songs they used as the basis of several of their own.

;» “The Girl Is Hot”
;» “Island Beauty”
;» “Hang Over”

”;The Fountain”;

Gordon Uchima
(Urban Mosaic)

; Jazz musician Gordon Uchima is yet another expatriate who left Hawaii in search of new opportunities and broader horizons. His debut album has no other local link, but given the flexibility the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts shows these days regarding residency, Uchima is as eligible as some of acts that have made the Hoku Award ballot in recent years. In any event, the album is one that Hawaii would be proud to claim.

Uchima plays sax, flute and keyboards as the leader of a studio group that also includes guitar and drums/percussion. The title song opens the album on an energetic up-tempo tune flavored with hints of Asian melodic structures. The aptly titled “;Asian Touch”; also has a world-music feel, but thereafter Uchima takes a mainstream American pop approach with equal success.

“;Hana,”; the only tune he didn't write, is a dreamy and soothing piece, while his energetic interplay with percussionist Tim Horiuchi on “;Inner Ki”; suggests the agile strength of spiritual power.

;» “The Fountain”
;» “Asian Touch”
;» “Missing You”


Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole
(Mountain Apple Company)

; Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole's third album was worthy of a place on this year's Grammy ballot, but even without that national accolade, it is a beautiful addition to the multigenerational discography of the Kanaka'ole ohana. He honors several of his kupuna with newly written originals and in performing their works—sometimes in their style, sometimes in his own.

From “;Grandchild,”; a song that describes his place as “;an expression”; of his ancestors, to “;Ea Mai Hawai'i,”; a traditional chant about the creation of the Hawaiian islands, Kanaka'ole puts his Hawaiian heritage in context, documents it for others and brings it forward another generation.

This beautiful album won't win a Grammy, but is certainly worthy of a Hoku Award or two!

;» “Mele Pa‘ihi Kupuna”
;» “‘Aina Po”
;» “He Koi Aloha”

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