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Gregg Porter's Music Reviews

 

June 2008

 

New Releases

The Brothers Cazimero: “Destiny” (Mountain Apple)

The Brothers Cazimero are undergoing a bit of an identity crisis. To many listeners to Hawaiian music, they can often be described as either icons or dinosaurs, innovators or a lounge act. Much of this can be attributed to their longevity in the business and their extensive catalogue of album releases.

But if you were to somehow ignore their prodigious body of work, to discover them anew, if you will, by just looking at their last two discs (2004’s “Some Call It Aloha…” and this, their 37th release), you might find that they are now an act committed to high-quality arrangements of both classic and contemporary Hawaiian music.

In recent years, so many things in the lives of these siblings have changed and caused them to refocus their energies on the things that are most important to them, which include training hula dancers, supporting young artists and writers of mele, and keeping great Hawaiian songs in the ears of their fans.

The jazzy arranging style of the Brothers touches familiar songs here, such as “Pua Kukui,” “Waimānalo Blues” and “No Ke Ano Ahiahi.” But it’s their compositional skills that once again shine on this album, in songs they have either written by themselves or in collaboration with people like Manu Boyd, Snowbird Bento, Kasey Keala Chock, Keli`i Tau`ā and Kyle Kaliko Chang.

While this album does not put much emphasis on any musicians or vocalists other than the duo, a special mention should be made regarding the vocal contributions of one guest – their sister, Kanoe, is heard on a handful of selections, most noticeably the gorgeous ballad, “`Ikuā.”

 

Herb Ohta, Jr. & Daniel Ho: “2 to 3 Feet: `Ukuleles in Paradise 3” (Daniel Ho Creations)

First time out, it was to showcase Hawaiian songs in an `ukulele-duet format; the second volume gave these two expert instrumentalists the opportunity to bring more of their original compositions into the mix (along with a trio setting to include Herb-Junior’s famous dad, Ohta-San). Now that they have had a good amount of time in each other’s company (touring, teaching, workshopping, writing instructional books), it comes through in the interplay on their third CD together.

The album includes only one “Hawaiian” song (“Laupahoehoe Hula”) and two covers (the famous Jobim bossa-nova tune “Wave” and Ohta-San’s “Bodysurfing”). The remaining eight instrumentals are pure Herb and Daniel, with the album having an over-arching theme of surf and sea. Some of the cuts are pieces that have appeared on their own solo albums, revisited here as duets, while four of them are credited to the two as writers.

It’s a treat when musicians who are strong composers and players in their own right find that collaboration with other artists pushes them to new levels and in directions that they may not have explored on their own. This pairing clearly continues to do so, and their third effort together should appeal to fans of the `ukulele, to lovers of Island music, and to those who appreciate great instrumental playing in general.

~~~ COMING TO THE AREA ~~~

July 17 – STEVEN ESPANIOLA --- Free concert of slack key guitar and `ukulele in Kenmore’s Summer Concert series at St. Edward State Park

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