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Gregg Porter's Music Reviews


April 2007


New Releases

Cody Pueo Pata: “He Aloha…” (Ululoa/Mountain Apple)

This is the long-awaited second release from this Maui-based artist, his first having been more than five years ago, after he gained attention as winner of the statewide falsetto contest in 1999. This is a marvelous album on all fronts, starting with the compositions. Half of the album’s songs are Pata originals, the other half a mix of traditional standards, familiar classics, and an original by a fellow kumu hula. (Part of the reason it took so long between albums was that Pata inherited the halau where he had been trained, with lineage back through George Naope.)

Then there are the outstanding performances on the recording; absolutely impeccable playing, crisply recorded. Most of the musicians are not well-known, with the exception of pianist Aaron J. Salā, whose sound is unmistakable, and steel guitarist Jeffery Au Hoy, who adds gentle, old-style touches throughout. Lastly, the album’s packaging itself is artful and attractive (something more artists are doing these days, to challenge those who only want downloads of music), with brief English-language descriptions of songs as well as a welcome statement – the rest of the liner notes are in `olelo Hawai`i, without translation.

A Nā Hōkū Hanohano nominee for his first release, this album is likely to garner him several of those awards next year.

Pekelo: “Hāna By The Sea” (Pekelo Music)

Not to be confused with the Seattle-based guitarist/`ukulele instructor, this Pekelo (last name Cosma) is a slack-key artist from Maui, whose recorded output prior to this release consisted of three albums issued between 1993 and 1997. (He also performed at the 1993 Northwest Folklife Festival, appearing on the CD of live recordings made at the Festival – yours truly was the broadcast producer of much of the material on that release.)

Based upon the liner notes, it appears that Pekelo has simply been carrying on with a somewhat normal life out of the spotlight for much of the past decade – not only playing music, but teaching, working with at-risk teens, and an elderhostel program. All the while, he’s been writing songs for this album, almost entirely made up of original pieces sung in both Hawaiian and English. He also plays all instruments with the exception of electric bass.

The magic of Pekelo’s music comes in his traditional stylings throughout – purely gorgeous slack-key playing, and that slightly wobbly vocal style that harkens back to masters like Ray Kāne and Gabby Pahinui. Fans of old-style Hawaiian music will certainly want to pick up this disc.

Recent Hawaiian Music DVD Releases:

The Mākaha Sons: “Live at the Hawai`i Theatre”

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Mākaha Sons, their first DVD features a live performance filmed at the beautifully-restored historic venue in downtown Honolulu. Their 2006 Hana Hou event featured a range of classic material from the trio, along with several special guests, including Natalie Kamauu and hula dancers.

Hapa: Maui

Hosted by Peter Fonda, this PBS Hawai`i hour-long special profiles the duo in performance of songs throughout their career, but with primary focus on their most recent CD. Chanter Charles Ka`upu and hula dancers join them.

“Superstars of Hawaiian Music in the Best of Nā Mele IV”

Also from PBS Hawai`i, this is a great compilation of some of the biggest names in Hawaiian music, filmed in a studio setting for the “Nā Mele” TV shows. The hour-long collection showcases Keali`i Reichel, Amy Hānaiali`i Gilliom, Willie K, `Ale`a, Mākaha Sons and Maunalua.

Music Events:

Hawaiian musicians touring through the area include:

Sunday, May 13 – 3 pm , Edmonds Center for the Arts, Edmonds – 425/275-9595, www.edmondscenterforthearts.org --- “The Ladies of Slack Key”: OWANA SALAZAR, CINDY COMBS & BRITTNI PAIVA

Friday, May 18 – 7:30 pm , Green River Community College, Auburn – 253/833-9111 ext. 2400 --- HO`OKENA & MELVEEN LEED

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