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Island Mele: ‘Hula 2,’ ‘Blues on a Ukulele’
REVIEWS BY JOHN BERGER / firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Cazimero (Mountain Apple)
Robert Cazimero’s fifth solo album is a sequel to last year’s Hoku Award-winner, “Hula.” Like it’s predecessor, “Hula 2” makes excellent use of his talents as a singer and pianist.
It is always interesting to hear an song stylist of Cazimero’s stature take on island standards. His delicate and introspective interpretation of “Kokee” is a creative and original milestone. He also makes a dramatic change in the album’s generally mellow mood with an uptempo arrangement of “Holoholo Ka‘a” that effectively suggests the experience of driving over bumpy rural roads to a romantic rendezvous.
Cazimero and producer Jon de Mello break the one-man format with an expansive orchestral arrangement of “Beyond the Reef” reminiscent of what de Mello’s father, Jack de Mello, was doing in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It’s a beautiful piece of music but would fit better on another album.
Hula cannot be danced without full knowledge of the lyrics and their meaning. Cazimero provides that information at www.mountainapplecompany.com/robertcazimero.
‘Blues on a Ukulele’
Ohta-san feat. Ginai (Ho)
Multi-talented musician/arranger/producer/studio engineer Pierre Grill is the third member of the de facto trio that’s heard on this recently released album by Herb “Ohta-san” Ohta.
Ohta-san, as he has been known since the mid-60s, is the most prolific ukulele virtuoso of the past half-century; his place in the pantheon of ukulele masters makes everything he records of interest.
Six newly written instrumentals — duets with Grill playing piano and providing the orchestral backing for both of them — show that Ohta is a fleet-fingered as ever and display his command of the instrument in convincing style. Ohta’s ukulele shares the spotlight with Grill’s instruments but is never overshadowed by them.
However, Grill’s light fingers on the piano keys, and his resourcefulness as a studio musician, make him a worthy partner of the famed master.
The six songs that feature Ginai on vocals and percussion are almost inevitably more about her voice than the ukulele. Wait patiently for a while and Ohta’s ukulele gets spotlight moments between the vocalizing on “Closer to the Light,” “April Snow” and the title song as well.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at email@example.com.