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The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ (11.24.10)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Aloha kākou!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 3 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Radio Hula (Uluwehi Guerrero’s recording on the album Ka Manawa Pono)

I was so excited to hear a vocal version of this song! I was familiar with slack key versions–it’s one that I’ve heard a million times. In fact, I wasn’t aware that the song had lyrics until years after my first listening.

So when I heard that the song had been recorded by none other than Kumu Uluwehi, I knew I was in for a treat. His gentle touch and effortless falsetto are always a delight to listen to.

The piece, attributed to Lizzie ‘Alohikea, is sweet and slow and Hawaiian all the way. And paired with Kumu Uluwehi’s voice, you can’t go wrong.

2. Blue Lei (Bill Akamuhou Dias’ recording on the album Hukilau Hulas)

It’s no secret that I LOVE the crooner songs! And this particular English-language piece is a stunning example of a true crooner classic!

The simple (and touching!) lyrics, the easy melody line that allows for an individual’s interpretation and the overall “vibe” of the piece make it a pleasure to sing. And it’s a delight for to sing it for our senior folks–it evokes a different era. And because it’s about a memory of when two lovers first met, it’s even more poignant.

Bill Akamuhou Dias’ tender delivery is classic. He gives it just the right amount of emotion without being overly sentimental. And this particular recording sounds like it could be playing over an old-fashioned radio. Perfect!

I love it. And it’s an honor to sing a piece like this. (Although it’s a little difficult to strum if you’re only familiar with basic chords on the ‘ukulele. Because it was written in the late 1920s, it’s got some interesting/challenging chords that are marks of the era. But well worth the effort to learn ‘em–you’ll love having this song as part of your repertoire! I promise!)

3. Pane Mai (The Brothers Cazimero’s recording on the album The Best of the Brothers Cazimero Vol 2)

I’ve been told this song was written in the 1980s, however it has an older feel to it. Like a great traditional Hawaiian mele–or even a hula.

I love how the Brothers Cazimero deliver it–straightforward. And I think that horn that keeps the walking bass line (maybe a tuba?) is perfect as physical representation of the steadfast and focused advancement of love. Right on!

The song has been covered by others. And I love the other recordings, too. But this week, my choice is the Brothers Cazimero’s version. Penned by Robert Cazimero, he gives a definitive version.

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!!

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