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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 4, 2008

ISLAND SOUNDS
Go down memory lane with these gems

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

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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"Sentimental Alibi" by Paul Shimomoto; Leo Hano Records

  • Genre: Hapa-haole music.

  • Distinguishing notes: It's been three years since Paul Shimomoto's debut CD, specializing in modern interpretations of classic hapa-haole hula favorites.

    This is a continuation of that early journey to times past, when folks like Harry Owens, R. Alex Anderson, Herb Ohta Sr. and Neil McKay scribbled tunes about romantic Island nights under the stars and sun-kissed days on the beach.

    Singer Shimomoto won the first Hapa Haole Music Festival, and he offers nostalgic vocals again, composing a few originals along the way.

    The track that typifies his mana'o is a medley of "Dancing Under the Stars/I'll Weave a Lei for You," which sounds perfect for a Monarch Room show, the ideal setting for this kind of music.

    More stroll-down-memory- lane highlights abound: "Honolulu (I Fell in Love With You)," "Somewhere in Hawai'i," "Waikoloa," "place" songs that pinpoint an Island memory; plus Shimomoto's "My Heart Belongs to You" (he wrote lyrics, John Starr Alexander composed music), a love ballad that transcends our shores.

    Shimomoto has splendid instrumental support, with Alexander at the dominant piano backup; but the roster of musicians reads like a who's who Wendell Ching, Dan Del Negro, Weldon Kekauoha, Jeff Peterson included. The session sounds like a command performance in a chic club.

  • Our take: Nice to know someone finds riches and resources in the past to share with contemporary audiences.

    Sample song: "Beautiful Kanani" by Paul Shimomoto

    "The Best of Ekolu" by Ekolu; Waiehu Records

  • Genre: Contemporary, reggae.

  • Distinguishing notes: Maui's Ekolu (Lukela Keala, Akoni Dellomes and Makapu Ho'opi'i) have been a fixture on the contemporary Island scene for more than decade; its fusion of reggae, hip-hop and sweet harmonies have earned statewide support.

    This best-of CD compiles hits and faves from four albums, "Down in the Valley," "Shores of Waiehu," "Back to the Valley" and "Ekolu Music." There are 19 tracks, many featured on a companion DVD, "To the World From Ekolu," and there are memories galore jammed on both releases.

    "Honestly" and "Just Like That" are newly recorded, from the DVD version, but the sentimental journey taps many familiar Ekolu gems, like: "Mistah Offisah," "Stuck on You," "Just One Night" and a couple of title tunes from their fame-launching earlier albums.

  • Our take: Finally, a Maui-no-ka-'oi number from one of the best.

    Sample song: "Honestly (The DVD version)" by Ekolu

    "Hawaii's Falsetto Poet" by Bill Ali'iloa Lincoln; HanaOla Records

  • Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

  • Distinguishing notes: Bill Ali'iloa Lincoln, a Hawaiian music luminary for more than six decades, is an iconic falsetto performer who certainly has influenced a new generation of artists who have followed in his footsteps. This anthology assembles 20 historic tracks, each with stellar liner notations, that help revisit this marvel of Hawaiian music.

    Considering some original tunes were recorded in the vintage 78-rpm format (remember those easily breakable 10-inch discs?) of another generation, this reissue sounds properly "historic," without the scratchiness and hisses of old recordings that's the magic of digital technology. Lincoln, of course, had the Cadillac of falsetto voices strong, sleek and long, able to soar to high, and then higher, registers. Think Auntie Genoa, but a gent, who sang while hula maidens danced. The earliest track is "Ku'u Lei Liliha" (1938), the most recent is "Moku O Keawe" (1975). In between, there are such delicious morsels as "My Yellow Ginger Lei," "Na Ka Pueo," "Pualeialoha."

    Harry B. Soria Jr., protector of "Territorial Music," is the masterful producer of this, and other, classic compilations of music of yesteryear.

  • Our take: Learn from one of the best; Lincoln's an icon who should not be forgotten.

    Sample song: "Ku'u Lei Liliha" by Bill Ali'iloa Lincoln

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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