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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 30, 2003

'Haiku' fuses Hawai'i, Japanese sounds

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

"Haiku" (Hula Records CD) continues the odyssey of Riley Lee (shakuhachi player) and Jeff Peterson (slack-key guitarist), whose musical fusion continues to amaze and impress.

Over 12 titles, mostly of the island music genre, Lee and Peterson show how their skills can cross cultures and fuse styles. There's a cohesive, soothing, relaxing nature to their sound, the Japanese bamboo flute lending a mood of tranquility and far-away, dream-like empathy, the ki ho'alu defining the local flavors of the tunes.

Both Lee and Peterson bring their personal strengths to the table.

Lee, one of the rare non-Asian masters of the shaku-hachi, manipulates the instrument to create the melodic lilts in performance of western songs. Peterson, a guitarist who also arranges and writes music, composed six of the 12 titles, defining his own boundaries on the local sound that continues to flourish.

The synergy is remarkably enticing, from a musical menu that includes Peterson's originals such as "Haiku" "Mele 'Uhane" and "Hi'ilawe in the Rain," and his arrangements of traditional favorites like "Waikiki" and "Puamana" are eloquent and ethereal. Lee co-wrote with Peterson the exotic and seductive "Night Blooming Cereus," named for the cactus that inhabits the rock walls of Punahou School.

As they did in earlier volumes ("Maui Morning," "Bamboo Slack Key"), Lee and Peterson educate as they entertain. They showcase their sensitive, distinctive styles, probing material of the Islands, in a new-age-type recipe clearly avoiding additives and lending their neutral tones to paint in hypnotic, natural colors for the senses.

"Haiku" by Rily Lee & Jeff Peterson. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.