Posted on: Sunday, July 17, 2005
Jasmine expands horizons and appeal in her first CD
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
Jasmine Trias had adopted the blues and the beat, in a debut CD that should put her in the post-"American Idol" mainstream.
Ledward Ka'apana continues to have nimble fingers in his latest slack-key disc, which also spotlights his 'ukulele wizardry.
A California-based combo with an Island rhythm sound makes a big play for the charts.
JASMINE TRIAS BY JASMINE TRIAS; CLOCKWORK ENTERTAINMENT RECORDS
Genre: Rhythm 'n' blues, soul.
Distinguishing notes: Jasmine Trias, who finished No. 3 on "American Idol" in 2004, realizes her dream with the debut of her first CD. She forsakes her ballad rep and displays no pitch problems as she turns in an edgier sound geared to Top 40 radio, expanding her horizons and appeal but never sacrificing her girlish innocence and charm. Her makeover, both physical and musical, already is gaining applause. She has the No. 1 song in the Philippines, "Excuses," which has the potential of racing up the American (and Hawaiian) charts. Here she's truly in the groove, amid a landscape of gritty, dance-friendly, hand-holding, booty-shaking serenades that pack oomph and energy. "Sexy Boy," "Whatcha Gon Do," "Don't Go," "I Still Luv U" and "I Won't Worry" are proud achievements that should earn a thumbs-up even from the harshest critics. (Hear that, Simon?) If her competition-time supporters all rally at the CD counter (instead of downloading, phoning or text-messaging), Trias will be traipsing to the mainstream. For old times' sake, Trias revisits "Inseparable," which got her on the "Idol" radar, and also rearranges and expands a club version of her Motown entry, "You're All I Need (To Get By)." The one tune to watch: Diane Warren's "If I Ever See Heaven Again," from the composer of "Because You Loved Me" that was a hit for Celine Dion; this rockaballad has appeal and stardust to spare.
The outlook: Trias should find a spot on playlists and dance rosters, here and abroad; there's diversity of mood and sass in her songs, thanks to a coterie of hip and astute behind-the-scenes arrangers and engineers.
Our take: Trias will tap into a new fan base and will make fans forget her earlier "Flying Home" single which, despite its promotional ties with Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, literally was her disc debut. The only "mystery" remaining for the Maryknoll "mystery girl" is when she pops on the charts.
KI HO'ALU (HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR) BY LEDWARD KA'APANA; RHYTHM ROOTS RECORDS
Genre: Hawaiian slack key.
Distinguishing notes: Ledward Ka'apana is an undisputed master of ki ho'alu, that Hawaiian style of strumming guitar that earned a first-ever Hawaiian Grammy Award earlier this year. Ka'apana isn't jumping on the bandwagon with this release; this is a way of life for him. Still, this disc surely will be among the contenders for the next go-round of the prestigious music industry award. This new assortment contains five Ka'apana originals, simple titles ("Fish Market Slack Key," "Slack Key Lullabye," "Pau Hana Slack Key," etc.) which belie the seasoned complexity and versatility of his style. Ol' nimble fingers is in full control, a technique that has been previously applauded and recognized. The selections include tributes (to Leonard Kwan) on "Opihi Moe Moe," and side trips ("Killing Me Softly," "San Antonio Rose") that reflect Ka'apana's expansive knowledge. "Killing" is an 'ukulele entity, which could evolve as a hit single in and outside of Hawai'i, with a bit of help from Lady Luck the tune is eternal, a recurring chartbuster, and this reinterpretation on 'ukulele could do for Ka'apana what "Song for Anna" did for Herb Ohta. (The uke version of "Love Is Blue" is also on this track.) This laid-back collection is a stunning exhibition of Ka'apana's grace and wisdom, as a musician who towers among the best.
The outlook: The magic of ki ho'alu is the ability to transport listeners into another realm; this one is a beauty that will be appreciated and endorsed by all who savor slack key.
Our take: Easygoing, easy-listening and easily one of the year's best.
MAKE YOUR MOVE BY ONE GROOVE; COMMONGROUND RECORDS
Genre: Island rhythm, reggae.
Distinguishing notes: Technically, this is not a Hawai'i release, though the CD is being distributed locally. One Groove is a Bay Area-based, seven-member ensemble with a wide California following, but its musical format is clearly Island-inspired, with the act gigging alongside several Hawai'i acts such as Fiji, Natural Vibrations, Ho'onu'a and Three Plus. Their tunes speak of life and times here, notably on the unmistakably Jawaiian "Big Ship" and "Rise Up," with kumu hula Patrick Makuakane, formerly of Hawai'i, delivering the opening chant.
The outlook: By writing original music, the group avoids the copycat stance common among "cover" bands; its seasoned sound is a contender on this debut CD.
Our take: One Groove is in the groove and going places.