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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 18, 2008

'Kaleihulumamo' a lei of memories

By Wayne Harada

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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"Kaleihulumamo" by Howard Ai; Ginger Doggie Records

  • Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

  • Distinguishing notes: Howard and Olana Ai have distinguished themselves with their Hula Halau Olana. A lifetime of experiences has resulted in this assembly, featuring Howard Ai, who has gathered songs that help tell his story. The CD title is Howard's middle name.

    From the opening medley of "Kalalea/Anahola" to the closing "Ipo Lei Manu," the album boasts a vivid and vibrant Hawaiian mana'o supported by a handsome package, with pertinent and personal liner notes by Howard and Olana, and precious lyrics.

    Among the jewels in this lei of memories: the traditional fave, "Hapa 'Ilikini"; Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett's "Halalu," revived with gusto and charm; Dennis Kamakahi's "Lei Ko'ele," with its embracing fondness of this Lana'i site; Sam Kamaipelekane's "Cowboy Hula," with an endearing paniolo swing; and a Howard-Olana composition, "Waiaka," a "place" song with affectionate memories galore.

    Ai was a Honolulu Advertiser pressman; hula and mele dominated his "other" life, one worth tuning in to if you're unfamiliar with his Hawaiian strokes.

  • Our take: With Ai's hula standing, the CD is a joy for hula pupils associated with his halau or not. If you love Hawaiian music and dance, this labor of love is a good bet.

    Sample song: "Kalalea/Anahola" by Howard Ai

    "Angels" by David Hicken; Enchanting Music

  • Genre: World/new age music, solo piano.

  • Distinguishing notes: David Hicken follows up his "Goddess" and "Faeries" CDs with another instrumental collection that alludes to angelic or heavenly sounds, suitable for meditation, relaxation, yoga, or simple unwinding and eliminating stress. Hicken is a global traveler, originally from England, who has lived in such ports as Thailand and Sri Lanka but has found his beacon on the North Shore, where he recorded this CD at his studio.

    Clearly, this is a journey of ethereal implications, with titles such as "Celeste," "Michael," "Rosetta," "Francesca," "Akasha," "Seraphina," "Raphael" and "Gabriel," creating calming and cleansing sounds that have glorious global reach. It may not be for everybody at first listen, but who doesn't need a pause to simply relax and let go?

  • Our take: New age is no longer new, but this is the genre; angelic angles are explored with Hicken's keyboard wizardry.

    Sample song: "Celeste" by David Hicken

    "Rhythm of the Sea" by John and Maria Naylor; no label

  • Genre: World music.

  • Distinguishing notes: John and Maria Naylor are an Island couple who have been on the local club circuit. They co-authored two tunes here, "Rhythm of the Sea" and "Dream of Brazil," but they get better results with material with a jazz/blues edge, such as Thelonius Monk's " 'Round Midnight," and classics such as "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." The style is mostly light jazz; the format combines vocal duets or solos, with jazz-style instrumental showcases at midpoint.

    The CD is available only from their Web site, www.johnandmarianaylor.com.

  • Our take: Nice compilation of personal faves, but limited commercial appeal. The couple needs live gigs to sell the CD.

    Sample song: "Rhythm of the Sea" by John and Maria Naylor

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.