Winning Souljahz sound


POSTED: Friday, December 04, 2009

'Bring Back the Days'

Rebel Souljahz
(Go Aloha Entertainment)

; The music industry adage about not tampering with a proven concept is especially relevant these days. Rebel Souljahz and their production team—manager/co-producer Brett Ortone and co-producer/arranger Imua Garza—heed it here by sticking close to the sound of their Hoku Award winner “;Nothing to Hide.”;

Garza and the group's four musicians provide a solid foundation with arrangements built around the basic rhythms that have driven Jawaiian music for more than two decades. The faux-Jamaican cliches that pop up here and there on the vocal side are also a longtime staple in Jawaiian music, but when the singers drop the Rasta-wannabe stuff, their contributions are praiseworthy as well.

In short, the group's fans won't be disappointed. This album could easily be another Hoku winner.

The guys take a break from reggae rhythms with “;Take a Look in My Eyes,”; a beautiful sample of their potential as a soul or gospel group. With “;She's Mine”; they do some narrative storytelling as well.

;» ”;Love At First Sight”;
;» ”;Your Man”;
;» ”;Take A Look In My Eyes”;

'Baba Alimoot'

Baba Alimoot

; William “;Baba”; Alimoot has been best known until now as a four-time Hoku Award-winning record producer—specifically as a co-producer of the winning compilation album in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

However, people who read the liner notes that are part of all first-rate Hawaiian albums know he is also an accomplished arranger, vocalist and studio musician. This isn't his first full-length project as a recording artist—he recorded an album with Chris Kamaka several years ago—but it is a beautiful showcase for him.

Alimoot demonstrates his imagination as an arranger by reworking Jerry Santos' signature, “;Ku'u Home o Kahalu'u,”; in ways that maintain the sentiments of Santos' lyrics without copying the original arrangement. He likewise gives “;Haleiwa”; a fresh feel by singing it entirely in Hawaiian and omitting Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom's sassy English hook (”;Mokuleia's where we fool around!”;).

He distinguishes himself elsewhere with impeccably traditionalist renditions of “;Hi'ilawe”; and “;Makee 'Ailana,”; and pays homage to Gabby Pahinui and Atta Isaacs with a swinging arrangement of “;I'm-a-Livin'-on-a-Easy.”; Jan Luna (keyboards), Chris Kamaka (acoustic bass/backing vocals) and Dr. Trey (ukulele) sit in on the latter song and give it a great backyard feel.

Cindy Lance's liner notes complete the package, with lyrics and translations for the Hawaiian songs and background information on all of them. While this album missed the release deadline for the 2010 Grammy Awards, it would do Hawaii proud in 2011.

;» ”;Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u”;
;» ”;Hi'ilawe”;
;» ”;Mahina 'O Hoku”;


(Kapala Music Group)

; Henry Kapono Ka'aihue set an important precedent for modern Hawaiian music in 2006 when he performed “;Hi'ilawe”; and “;Hawai'i Pono'i”; with their Hawaiian lyrics, but set to straight hard-rock arrangements. Kapala makes a similar contribution with imaginative arrangements of “;'Alika”; and “;Kawika”; that also define new frontiers for Hawaiian-language music.

“;'Alika”; has a catchy instrumental arrangement that represents at least three or four non-Hawaiian genres—Dixieland jazz among them—even as the vocalists are singing traditional Hawaiian falsetto. “;Kawika,”; also sung in Hawaiian, is reworked as peppy big-band swing seasoned with hints of Spike Jones.

The group's medley of “;Pretty Red Hibiscus”; and “;Tropical Lair,”; in addition to an unlisted recording of “;My Sweet Gardenia Lei,”; blend jazz, pop and hapa-haole music in ways that will be of interest to “;tiki music”; fans.

It isn't all experimental, either. Kapala embraces traditionalist Hawaiian music vocally and instrumentally as well. “;He Aloha No 'o Honolulu”; honors the Hawaiian tradition of smooth vocal harmonies and big-band hapa-haole pop. “;La 'Elima”; is arranged to emphasize the singer's voice and the lyrics in exquisite traditional style.

All this diversity might not be surprising if you recognize Kapala as the middle name of Hoku Award-winning singer/musician Zanuck Kapala Lindsey. Working with seven talented musicians as partners, he deserves to be heard nationwide.

“;Imprint”; might not be “;Hawaiian enough”; for the Grammy ballot, but it is a milestone in modern Hawaiian music.

;» ”;'Alika”;
;» ”;He Aloha No 'o Honolulu”;
;» ”;96795”;