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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, May 9, 2004

Hawaiiana sounds with roots in the '70s

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Island artists who emerged on the musical scene in the 1970s are spotlighted in three new CD arrivals.

The late Dennis Pavao, who had a luminous solo career, also was a founding member of Hui 'Ohana, a pioneering act that featured his cousins Ledward and Nedward Ka'apana. A new Pavao disc (already out) and a new Hui disc (available Tuesday) are worth discovering.

And the Makapuu Sand Band, which also has roots that date back three decades, is back in a re-

issue that brings back its Hawaiian folk sound.

"KEIKI KUPUNA" by Dennis Pavao; Mountain Apple Co.

• Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

• Distinguishing notes: It's been two years since the death of Dennis Pavao. Happily, he left a legacy of music. This CD, offering never-before-heard tracks he recorded in the months before his death at age 50, is a warm reminder of his stellar artistry and his connections with his 'aina and 'ohana.

Whether on a simple "Sanoe" or a reflective "Kupuna," the voice is unmistakably Hawaiian, the sentiment unquestionably real. There are numerous familiar titles, such as "Palisa" and "Isa Lei;" the ageless "Love Song of Kalua" should impress a new generation of listeners. He sings in both his traditional and falsetto voices, with authority and confidence in his delivery. His children are heard on "Keiki Mahine," adding distinctive and stunning dimension to the tune.

• The outlook: An instant favorite among the Pavao diehards — from his early participation in Hui 'Ohana to his subsequent solo career.

• Our take: A cherished reminder for his original fans — and a learning expedition for those just getting on his bandwagon.

"Kapuna" by Dennis Pavao. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

"MAGIC ISLANDS" by Hui 'Ohana; Poki Records

• Genre: Traditional and contemporary Hawaiian.

• Distinguishing notes: Hui 'Ohana, a pioneering group from the 1970s, featured Ledward and Nedward Ka'apana and their cousin, Dennis Pavao. They were an upstart unit, playing in the modern style but fusing their Hawaiian roots. This blend characterized their reign for the next decade, with the act eventually splitting and going separate ways.

This anthology scans the mid-career period between 1976 and 1978 and includes succulent falsetto tones, along with harmonies that remain haunting and relevant today. Classics abound: "Hanalei Moon," "Kaulana Na Pua," "Hele on to Kaua'i," "Ke Kali Nei Au." There are non-Hawaiian faves, too: "United We Stand," "I Never Said Goodbye," "Come on Over."

• The outlook: A stroll to the past; a gentle reminder of how good this group was, and a reflection of the vision that the late record producer Bill Murata had in finding and exposing this ensemble.

• Our take: A lot of "Magic" moments to remember.

"Hanalei Moon" by Hui 'Ohana. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

"WINDS OF WAIMANALO" by the Makapuu Sand Band; HanaOla Records

• Genre: Contemporary Hawaiian, world music.

• Distinguishing notes: Another 1970s act — featuring cousins (one calabash) Andrew Iaukea Bright III, David Kananikamehameha Kamai, Albert Ronnie Kaai and Job Maluhia Harris — capitalized on the changing sound of Island music in its '70s renaissance. The selections here, in this reissue, reaffirm the sound the band created, marrying traditional Hawaiian with contemporary — with a heavy dosage of folk elements thrown in. From originals such as "Hawaiian Tie" and "Hale I Kokomo" to tradition-bound classics such as "Hawaiian Scotsman" and "Mae Mae Lihau," Makapu'u was a place to be back then. The title song is among the fans' favorites — an homage to their Waimanalo base.

• The outlook: Time to replace the vinyl version.

• Our take: Another example of young Hawaiians excelling in a time of change.

"Hale I Kokomo" by Makapuu Sand Band. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, 525-8067 or fax 525-8055.