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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 27, 2002

CDs offer fresh yet traditional sounds

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Hunting for Hawaiian music that's fresh and inventive, yet steeped in tradition? Here's a pair worth your time and money:

Sweet-voiced trio


  • Label: Poki Records SPCED 9068
  • Artists: 'Ale'a (Chad Takatsugi, Kale Hannahs, Ryan Gonzalez)
  • Genre: Contemporary, traditional Hawaiian
  • Distinguishing notes: Even with the departure of member Kala'i Stern, 'Ale'a, in its second CD, continues its voyage through Hawaiian waters, tackling both originals and standards. Vocally and instrumentally, the trio has meshed into a smooth and efficient sound machine, living up to its name (which means "sweet-voiced"). And the valuable lyrics in the liner booklet help you understand the songs.
  • The outlook: A sure-fire hit with fans, radio programmers, hula students and kumu; rich and resourceful, with dance favorites ("Po La'ila'i," "Moku Kia Kahi," "Lei 'O Kohala") and explorations into the group's creative mind ("Ka Manu Kikaha 'Olu," "Make My Dream Come True").
  • Our take: Irresistible harmony and taut musicianship should elevate the trio's ranking in the Hawaiiana hierachry. Move over, Ho'okena and The Brothers Cazimero, and make room for 'Ale'a.
Out of the shadows

"E Apo Mai"

  • Label: B.P. Music Arts BP1001
  • Artist: Nathan Aweau
  • Genre: Traditional, contemporary Hawaiian
  • Distinguishing notes: Aweau, who plays bass in Don Ho's shows, demonstrates confidence and growth in his third album; his compositions and "covers" convey an earnest appreciation of his roots. His background in pop, jazz and Hawaiian is reflected in a variety of styles.
  • The outlook: The title song (which means "to cherish"), mindful of family, friends and God in these times after 9/11, could emerge as a signature, but Aweau's personalized take on "Kamaka Ka'ili Aloha," "Pua Li'lia" and "Akaka Falls" could bring him recognition and acceptance, too.
  • Our take: An emerging talent, long under-appreciated, comes out of the shadows.