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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 5, 2009

CD Reviews

Advertiser Staff

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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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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KIWINI VAITAI

Independently Bizarre

Reggae, Jawaiian

Lost Coast

Kiwini Vaitai has Island and Tongan roots, so he infuses Polynesian flavors and Jawaiian rhythms here. He's blessed with a keen wit and a command of lyrics, so his originals have the heady appeal of kava. The tempos are clearly spot-on for the young in party mode.

Overview: With tutelage and shaping from Laga Savea (producer) and Wendel Ching (engineer), and blessings from Konishiki (and the Lost Coast team), Vaitai (rhymes with mai tai) packs a punch in both upbeat ("You Left Me") and ballad stance ("Why Do We"), which explains his soaring position on local sales charts. While the throbbing heartbeat pace is prevalent, Vaitai offers variations check out "Don't Play," "You Will Be Mine," "Pina Colada." Liner lyrics affirm his savvy.

Wayne Harada | Special to The Advertiser

4 Stars

FAITH AKO

Papaku: Bring It Home

Traditional Hawaiian

Community Musicians

Papaku means strong, upright- and Faith Ako, a Hawaiian transplanted to the Bay Area, has set up a steadfast foundation of Island musicianship as an ex-pat carrying the Hawaiian banner.

Overview: Ako dedicates this CD to her granddaughter, and uncorks simple but satisfying renderings of favorites by Lena Machado and Queen Liliu'okalani, with a couple of sweet medleys "Waipio" and "Hi'ilawe," plus a Hilo Town sandwich and goes on a Samoan journey with "Tele I'a O Le Sami" and "Let Me Hear You Whisper." And the Gerry & the Pacemakers' hit, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" is solid. Great for listening, grand for dancing.

Wayne Harada | Special to The Advertiser.

3 stars

VON BARON

Souljourer

Jazz, new age

von Baron Music

A drummer by trade, von (lower case v) Baron plays keyboards and percussion, as well as drums, on this atmospheric "journey into your soul," as his CD is subtitled. The Honolulu Jazz Quartet drummer describes this as "new age music on steroids" and he's onto something, expanding the perimeters of jazz by blurring the boundaries with sweetening and softening the jazz edge.

Overview: Musicians know best; when you play, you jam. And von Baron has tapped the considerable talents of his pals guitarist Jimmy Funai, pianist Dan Del Negro, saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama on "One Life to Live" and several other tracks, acoustic guitarist Jeff Peterson and acoustic rhythm guitarist Nolet Quaison on "Well-Traveled Gypsy," but plays it all on "Pineapple Express," "Tranquil Destination" and "Soujourner." His album is available at www.cdbaby.com. Von-derful!

Wayne Harada | Special to The Advertiser.

4 stars

SOCIETY OF SEVEN LV

Just for You

Pop/showroom

www.societyofsevenlv.com

The Society of Seven LV (Las Vegas, aka Latest Version) is the spin-off septet ensconced at the Outrigger Waikiki's Main Showroom for nearly 10 years. This debut CD, only available at the club after the show, is designed as a take-home keepsake of the group's vast spirit, repertoire and energy. Leader-member Richard Natto produced.

Overview: The SOS is an eminent interpreter of pop hits, show medleys, standards and impressions, sharing its homogeneous song bag for local and visitor audiences. This souvenir channels the grandeur of the on-stage show, with ballads ("The Greatest Love of All"), swing (Ellington, Miller), The Beatles ("Can't Buy Me Love"), impression of James Brown and The Rat Packers and, yes, Broadway ("Phantom of the Opera," "Chicago")... with in-studio tracks alongside "live" mainstage excerpts. A hot ticket, though in-person costumes and visuals are missing.

Wayne Harada | Special to The Advertiser

4 stars