Island Mele: VIVO’s debut stands out

Dec. 2, 2013 | 0 Comments




Violin and clarinet are not often heard in island recordings. That fact makes this calling card from VIVO — Duane Padilla (violin, viola), Norm Foster (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Ruth Shiroma Foster (vocals, piano, ukulele) — an instant stand-out. VIVO has something unusual to share.

1202 vivoA bright and playful arrangement of Cole Porter’s 1928 hit, “Let’s Do It” (also known as “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love”), is instantly appealing. Cole was a great lyricist, and the instrumental exchanges between Padilla and Norm Foster accent the song’s whimsical humor.

VIVO also presents an unconventional arrangement of “Fly Me To The Moon” that suggests that the singer has doubts that the flight will take place. A dark treatment of “Danny Boy” is sung by Ruth with references to death and the promise that “my grave shall warm and sweeter be” if Danny visits her grave when he returns and whispers that he still loves her. In short, with “Danny Boy,” VIVO effectively alludes to the vast and tragic history of Irish relations with England.

Ruth is the trio’s resident songwriter. “Habitually Late” opens the album with a lament about being late for an appointment and stuck in traffic (“The highway is a parking lot/And the clock is moving fast…”). “Gotta Make It My Own” celebrates liberation from a bad relationship; the interplay between the instruments — ukulele, violin and bass clarinet — puts a familiar message of new-found emotional empowerment in a fresh context.

Norm shares the composer’s credit for “Bad Karma.” He and Ruth call out a long list of irksome people deserving of cosmic payback — jerks who cut you off in traffic, twits who break confidences, and those germ-spreaders who “double dip in the salsa” when they’re ill, to name three.

VIVO is available at
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at

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