Hawaiian sounds take the spotlight
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
Hawaiiana rules, with two exceptional treasures from a wahine and a kane.
No need to fret about the disappearance of Hawaiian sounds; with these CDs, island music is being preserved with flair and honesty.
"Wahine Slack 'n' Steel" by Owana Salazar; Moonbow Records
- Genre: Traditional and contemporary Hawaiian, with vocals and ki ho'alu (slack-key).
- Distinguishing notes: Owana Salazar long has been a singer too often taken for granted. Here, her blissful vocal style is delicately meshed with ki ho'alu, proving she is a certified jewel of a talent. Best of all, she takes risk, combining traditional island sounds with modern stuff exemplified by her stunning medley of the classic Sam Li'a composition, "Hi'ilawe," combined with, get this, Jimi Hendrix's "Waterfall." The medley cascades through the generations a soulful slack-key guitar adding a seal of unmistakable originality. The fare runs the gamut, from oldies ("Hula Blues," an instrumental, and "Makee 'Ailana," a vocal) to newer models of Hawaiiana (like her original composition, "Kapalua," and Dennis Kamakahi's "Kou Aloha Mau A Mau").
- The outlook: Outstanding repertoire in Hawaiian and in English, skillfully performed, wisely annotated with meaningful liner notes and, yes, lyrics a real contender for anyone's collection. Scan the credits and you'll discover an all-star backup crew including such favorites as Ocean Kaowili, John Koko, Bailey Matsuda, Randy Lorenzo, Herb Ohta Jr. and more folks who undoubtedly recognize the depth and breadth of her talent.
- Our take: This is the one that will put Salazar on the map, once and for all.
|"Hula Blues" by Owana Salazar. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.|
"Pa'ina" by Ata Damaso; Ululoa Productions
- Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.
- Distinguishing notes: For his second CD, Ata Damaso has composed a handful of originals, which stand up nicely, thank you, alongside time-honored repertory favorites. He writes and performs with authority, straight from the heart, making the likes of "Nani Wale E Pakala," "Aia Ni'ihau," and "Na Wehi O Wailuku" radiate with old-time grace and soul. And his interpretations of "Mauna Loa," "Green Rose Hula" and "Pua Ahihi" clearly suggest he's trained and studied well from the masters. Damaso plays a myriad of instruments here, including 'ukulele, guitar, piano and bass, plus a very nostalgic 100-year-old upright bass with Weed Whacker cord strings. Way to go, Ata.
- The outlook: A likely favorite for hula students, because many of the songs have dance inclinations.
- Our take: For those hungry for traditional Hawaiian music, "Pa'ina" is a feast for the ears and the heart.
|"Mauna Loa" by Ata Damaso. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.|
Reach Wayne Harada at firstname.lastname@example.org, 525-8067 or by faxing 525-8055.