Posted | Comments Off
Island Mele: ‘Christmas 3′ a mixed bag
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
Neos Productions celebrates Christmas with a collection of 14 songs recorded by a random assortment of Hawaii residents — some of them major figures in local music, others virtual unknowns.
‘Hawaiian Style Christmas 3′
Various Artists (Neos Productions)
The producers don’t indicate whether this is a compilation of new recordings or an anthology culled from previously released work, but the sameness of the arrangements — a singer is accompanied by two or three instruments — suggests the former. Compilation or anthology, the producers’ selections fit together nicely either way.
“What Child is This? – Ke Keiki Ali‘i,” sung first in Hawaiian, then in English and then again in Hawaiian, by Kawika Kahiapo, opens the program with a beautiful reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season and that Christianity has deep roots here. Imua and Tiffany Garza (“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”), Ben Vegas and Maila Gibson (“Silent Night – Po La‘i E”) and Nohelani Cypriano (“O Little Town of Bethlehem”) also sing ever-popular Christian standards.
Robi Kahakalau (“Holiday Hula”) and Gordon Freitas (“Hawaiian Santa”) draw on Hawaii’s hapa haole secular traditions, and Richard Natto closes the collection with a heartfelt, slightly wistful arrangement of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” After all his years as a member of Toma/Natto, a solo artist, and currently a member of the Society Of Seven, Natto certainly knows how to tap the emotion in a song.
There are some creative surprises. Ernie Cruz Jr., dispenses with traditional drums and creates an energetic new take on “Little Drummer Boy.” Rodney Bejer adds the lyric hook from Kui Lee’s “One Paddle Two Paddle” to his arrangement of “Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe.”
Music aside, this would be a much better showcase for the artists if the producers’ annotation contained more then performance and composer credits. Many would-be buyers these days may not know of the extensive career accomplishments of Cypriano, Kahakalau, Kahiapo, Natto and Rasmussen.
Conversely, the newcomer artists would certainly benefit from the additional exposure a brief bio can provide.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.