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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 9, 2006

ISLAND SOUNDS
Koolanesian sounds from L.A.; Isle love; back-porch ki ho'alu

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

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After years away from the local music scene, can Norm Compton launch a recording and share his Island ties from his Los Angeles base?

Reid Hashiro debuts with an amiable songbag.

And singer-guitarist George Kahumoku Jr. is relaxed and reflective in his first outing since his Hawaiian Grammy group win in February.

"THE KOOLANESIAN HEART" BY NORMAN FRANK COMPTON; WESTERNMOST RECORDS

  • Genre: World music

  • Distinguishing notes: Norm Compton is known to some as a singer, to others as a Hollywood stuntman (he's done 100 or so films), a job he took on when "Magnum, P.I." was an Island staple. But he missed his music while on the movie sets and this CD is the result. The title, coined by Compton, refers to the cool sound produced when blues meet jazz and Island syncopation. A tropical undercurrent punctuates most of his originals; certainly, he retains the memories of Island living via "Ku'uipo Baby," "Hale'iwa Sunday," "Back to Kaua'i" and "Kickin' It in the Streets." There's even a pop entry in "A Man Like Me," with some bluesy tints; the most lingering melody is "The Girl," a story-in-song with attitude and sass.

  • The outlook: A dark horse; for now, available only at www.koolanesian.com.

  • Our take: Compton will have to work hard to get this one flying; his absence (he lives in California) is one issue and getting airplay is another.

    "Kickin it in the streets" by Norman Frank Compton. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

    "FALLING IN LOVE" BY REID HASHIRO; NEOS PRODUCTIONS

  • Genre: World music, adult contemporary

  • Distinguishing notes: Local boy Reid Hashiro's debut CD is a mix of four of his originals, four newbies by his guitarist Al Mira-Fuentes and two covers, including the Bread staple "Make It With You," transformed into a rockaballad that gives the oldie a new twinkle. A Mid-Pacific Institute and University of Hawai'i grad, Hashiro's song choices center on romance and relationships arranged with a backbeat that gives most titles a soft-rock edge, exemplified in such tracks as "Here I Am," "I Love the Way," "Rain" and "Amber." It might have been prudent to eliminate the discofied tempo in favor of a pristine ballad on a couple of tracks, since his voice is a comfy fit for romantic lyrics. As presented here, variety is lacking; where there is a tad of a change on "Close to You," it's reggaefied.

  • The outlook: Should help him in club appearances; it's a wholesome, safe ticket.

  • Our take: A congenial freshman effort.

    "Make It With You" by Reid Hashiro. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

    "NA 'ANO'ANO: THE SEEDS" BY GEORGE KAHUMOKU JR.; DANIEL HO CREATIONS

  • Genre: Hawaiian slack key with vocals

  • Distinguishing notes: George Kahumoku Jr. was one of this year's ki ho'alu Grammy winners; this collection, recorded before his win, showcases his strumming artistry (on 12-string guitar) as well as ability to interpret, adapt and personalize well-known classics. The opening track, a plaintive reflection of times past that Kahumoku penned in 1982, sets the looking-back tone. Kahumoku's easy-going manner revives sundry other favorites ("Keawaiki," "Pane Mai," "Pua Carnation," "Alu Like," "Waika," "He 'Ono"). Living-room or back-porch informality prevails an art not easily transferred onto CD. His annotated liner notes provide details and amplify each title, as if he were there to introduce them.

  • The outlook: A surefire winner.

  • Our take: By George, he's done it again a winning combination of style marrying material.

    "Keawaiki" by George Kahumoku, Jr.Audio sample available in mp3 format.

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.