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Posts Tagged ‘Ernie Cruz Jr.’

The Crooner’s Weekly TOP 5 (9.19.12)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

I LOVE HAWAIIAN MUSIC!  True story.

And I listen to it all the time!  Especially when I’m on the move–either walking along NYC’s crowded sidewalks or riding the rails on the subway through the tunnels under the concrete.  (I’m convinced that it helps to keep me sane in this crazy city!)

I love a really wide variety of it: vintage, traditional, contemporary, instrumental…

And I love sharing some of my favorites with you.

Here are the TOP 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Ei Nei (Lena Machado’s recording on the album Hawaiian Song Bird)

One of my favorite voices from the past is Aunty Lena Machado.  And while her voice and this song are both considered to be vintage by some folks, in my mind they’re also timeless.

One of my favorite things to hear when I’m on Molokai is when one of the kūpuna (elders) calls out so sweetly to someone across the room, “Hui!  Ei nei… aloha!  Aloha mai!”  (“You there!  Darling!  Love from me to you!”)

There’s a great story in the book, LENA MACHADO: SONGBIRD OF HAWAI’I that describes Aunty Lena’s relationship with her husband, Uncle Lu.

Listening to the song takes me back to when I was a little boy, staying in my grandparents’ house in Pennsylvania.  After dinner was finished and the dishes had been washed, they’d turn out the overhead lights and the kitchen would be lit by a tiny light over the sink.  We’d all go into the other room to watch television, with my grandparents holding hands while they walked.

Ei nei…

2. Nā ʻOno O Ka ʻĀina (Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole’s recording on the album Hiʻipoi I Ka ʻĀina Aloha)

I love this album and I love this particular track.  Here’s why:

This piece is dedicated to Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole and inspired by her song, Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai as well as her teachings.  The composition, attributed to Kalani Meinecke and George Kahumoku in the album’s liner notes, describes different types of taros (Aunty Edith’s favorites) and is done like a hymeni-style (hymn-like) chant with beautiful vocal harmonies.

The last verse of the piece will be instantly recognizable to so many people as the group HAPA used it to close their legendary recording of Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai.

Note to self: I need to make this part of my repertoire!

*Please click HERE to visit the website of the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation.

3. A Lei Of Aloha (Moe Keale’s recording on the album Imagine)

Wanna hear a beautiful song that really describes the spirit of Aloha?  This is it.

Incredibly simple–and yet so deep. How do you describe the Aloha spirit?  Well, this song’s lyrics do a great job of illustrating something so easily felt but so difficult to put into words.

And who better to sing it than Uncle Moe Keale?  His voice… his voice…

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat.  I like to think that the more I listen, the more it sinks into my bones.

*Please click HERE to visit a page that display’s the song’s lyrics.

4. One Day Soon (Ernie Cruz Jr’s recording on the album Portaits)

Oooh!  This song is smooth!

And that awesome slap-strum that makes such a fun beat!  I bet you can’t listen to it without moving your body.  I find myself snapping along while I listen–like I’m back in my father’s jazz club.

The song reminds me of a Stevie Wonder tune.  Old-school soul groove all the way–island style.  Love it.

5. Noenoe (Cyril Pahinui’s recording on the album 6 & 12 String Slack Key)

When I’m stressed out, I put on some amazing kī hōʻalu, slack key guitar, music.  It soothes me.  Reaches down inside me and acts a pressure release.  Seriously.  I can feel my shoulders drop away from my ears…

This song, played by the one and only Cyril Pahinui, is like listening to the soundtrack of a dream.  Ah!  Those arpeggios!  The notes mix and swirl like colors on an artist’s palette.

A true master, he bends the strings and the rhythms under his skilled fingers.

*Please click HERE to visit Uncle Cyril’s website.

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

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at www.mele.com for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

**Wanna be the first to know when Crooner News/Updates are posted?  You can subscribe by clicking HERE!**

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ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

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 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. To You, Sweetheart, Aloha (Maile Serenders’ recording on the album Let’s Hula)

Ah!  Voices from the past singing out. I love a great vintage recording.

This song, written by Harry Owens, has all of the wonderful marks of the song from the 50s–a beautiful (and somewhat complex) melody with touching lyrics that tug on the heart strings.  This “song of departure” wishes one’s beloved ,”Aloha” as they are leaving.  Come on–that’s pretty awesome!

The lead is sung by a beautiful female voice–the ever-elegant and lovely Nina Kealiiwahamana.  If you are a fan of Hawaiian music from this era, you’ll recognize her voice immediately.  And when she’s joined by the harmonies of the male chorus, well, it’s perfection to my ear…

(**Crooner Note:  The album was meant to introduce non-Hawaiians to Hawaiian music.  I love this collection.  It even has photos of “how to dance the hula” for each of the songs.  A fun walk down memory lane.)

2. Puanani (The Pandanus Club’s recording on the album Hoʻike)

A fantastic song recorded by a fantastic group.  It utilizes the olapa strum–one, two, three–echoing the beats of the ipu heke, the gourd drum used in traditional hula.

The song is sung with such gentleness–and such awesome falsetto!  Right on!  Makes me want to take out the ukulele and start strumming and singing along. And it modulates, going higher and higher as the song draws to a close.

This is one of those “take your breath away” kinds of hulas.  You’ll love it.

My only complaint is that the CD doesn’t come with lyrics or much in the way of liner notes.  I love that.  And finding out information online has been slow…  Maybe someday this album will be reissued with those added bonuses.

3. Nā Puʻu ʻEhā (Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole’s recording on the album Kaumakaiwa)

When the song first started, before I even recognized the album (or even the singer!) I knew I was listening to someone from the famed Kanakaʻole family.  That style.  That presence. That strength.

And then, of course, it hit me–this is Kaumakaiwa!  I love, love, love his voice.

Generations of his family come thru when he sings.  It’s pretty, well, mindblowing when you think about it.

And I love how he chooses to kāhea, to call out the next verse before it starts.  It’s something you might see if you go to a hula performance.  Either the dancers or the musicians call out the first line/first few lyrics of the next verse to make sure that everyone is “on the same page” and in sync.

Kaumakaiwa is a master singer/chanter.  Floating from high to low and back, again, and taking us all with him on this wild ride.

*Please click HERE to visit Kaumakaiwas website.

4. Gotta Get Away (Ernie Cruz, Jr’s recording on the album Portraits)

It’s been “one of those weeks” here in NYC.  I’ve been kind of overwhelmed as I prepare for an upcoming trip back to Molokai next week.  I turned to Hawaiian music to help me out–it’s my favorite cure-all!

This song, written by Henry Kapono, was exactly what I needed.

It was like someone had listened to what my heart was saying and then put it to music.  All about the need to get away–to get back to the country and get a grip.

The song’s cool island vibe and Ernie Cruz, Jr’s awesome voice make a perfect combination for this weary New Yorker’s soul.  Right on!

5. Silhouette Hula (Owana Salazar’s recording on the album Hula Jazz)

I spent my teen years working in my father’s jazz club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Sometimes on stage.  Sometimes behind the scenes.  Jazz (and that old-school nightclub-style sound) is something that runs through my veins.

This song opens with a smooth clarinet solo over a simple guitar accompaniment.  So awesome.  So reminiscent of New Orleans.

And then Owana’s voice–those smooth and sultry sounds–breaks over the instruments.

Wow.  A great combination, indeed!

The song, attributed to Danny Kalauawa Stewer and Steve Graham, speaks of a love in the shadows…

*Please click HERE to visit Owana’s website.

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

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at www.mele.com for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

**Wanna be the first to know when Crooner News/Updates are posted?  You can subscribe by clicking HERE!**

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The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (10.19.11)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

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 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Royal Hawaiian Hotel  (Steven Espaniola’s recording on the album Hoʻomaka)

A fantastic recording of a classic Hawaiian song by a modern master!

This is one of those songs that has been recorded a million times.  But…

It’s always exciting to see/hear what an artist does with it.  How they make it their own.

And Steven Espaniola definitely seems to have taken some time to really approach the song to see how it speaks to him.  He found a way to put his own stamp–his distinctive sound and style–on it.

I’m hooked on his recording this week.

*Please click HERE to visit Steven’s website.

2. Ka Huila Wai (Nā Palapalai’s recording on the album Ke ʻAla Beauty)

You guys know how much I love the sound of Nā Palapalai.  I’m a huge fan!

And this song, attributed to Alfred Alohikea, is a great example of why I love ‘em so much.  So perfect.  Their voices–wow.

Wow.

Best way to sum it up for me.  Wow.

*Please click HERE to visit Nā Palapalai’s website.

3. E Mau (Teresa Bright’s recording on the album Self Portrait)

A jazzy rendition of a classic song attributed to Alvin Kaleolani Isaacs, Sr.

You know, I’ve heard people say that Teresa Bright is “too jazzy” or “not traditional.”  But I have to say that I really appreciate her interpretation of some of the classic songs.  It’s different–which is sure to ruffle a few feathers in the Hawaiian music community–but it’s a style that’s definitely HERS.  And how appropriate to to have a very contemporary version of song about perpetuation.  Her version brings new life to it.  I applaud that.

Right on, Aunty Teresa!  Right on!

4. Pane Mai (The Kaʻau Crater Boys’ recording on the album Making Waves)

One of my favorite things to do is to sit in on a jam session (kanikapila) with my friends.

And this recording sounds like a kanikapila, for sure.  I mean, if a jam session could be professionally produced and consisted of two world-class musicians like Ernie Cruz, Jr. and Troy Fernandez.

The song, written by Robert Cazimero, speaks of calling out to one’s beloved–even rousing one’s beloved from a deep sleep.

I love it.  I love how the song makes me feel.  And I love the smile that it produces when I listen to it.

5. Silent Rhythm (Anthony Natividad’s recording on the album Ahupuaʻa)

I love the sound of the ohe hano ihu, the bamboo nose flute.  And Anthony Natividad is a true master of this ancient instrument.

This week, I’ve  needed to his soothing recordings.  They reach deep inside me and take me to “a quiet place.”  And living in NYC, sometimes you just need that.

This wonderful recording features ambient nature sounds in the background.  It reminds me of sitting near the auwai in Halawa Valley.  Ah…

(**Crooner Note: I might be the worldʻs worst nose flute player.  But I hoping that the more I listen to his album–and practice, of course–the better my chances are of actually being able to play it one day.)

*Please click HERE to visit Anthony’s website.

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

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at www.mele.com for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!

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The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (9.28.11)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

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 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Home Kapaka (Kahauanu Lake Trio’s recording on the album At The Halekulani Hotel)

I love this song.  And that’s a good thing, too.  I’ve played it about 100 times this week!

Some of our NYC-based hula dancers asked if I’d learn it so they could have live music while they rehearsed.  (And you know how much I LOVE to play for the dancers!)  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as familiar with the song–or at least the lyrics of the song–as I’d hoped.  And that was a great excuse to really immerse myself in studying the song.

I looked through my CD collection and found several different versions.  Each one of ‘em distinct.  Each one of ‘em perfect in their own right.

But this week, while I’ve been strumming and singing, I’ve been hearing Kahauanu Lake Trio’s version in my head.  It’s very polished.  Very refined.  Very representative of their sound–and the sound of the Halekulani Hotel in Waikīkī.  Dreamy…

2. Home in the Islands (The Brothers Cazimero’s recording on the album The Best of the Brothers Cazimero )

Wanna feel like you’re back in the islands?  Looking for a song to create a mood?  Look no further.  This is it.

From the opening sounds of the guitar and the first taste of the Brothers Cazimero’s tight harmonies, I’m back on Oʻahu–tooling around in a car with the windows down.  It takes me there instantly.

Robert Cazimero sang the song at the piano–as a solo– when he was here in NYC this past weekend. When he sang it, I got a little choked up.  That familiar aching in my chest because I want to be in the islands.  Auē… (Please click HERE to read more about that performance.)

Thankfully, this recording takes me there–and that means I can go to Hawaiʻi in my mind just by pushing PLAY.

*Please click HERE to visit the Brothers Cazimero website.

3. Waiomina (The Hoʻopiʻi Brothers’ recording on the album Nā Mele Hoʻoheno)

I love leo kiʻekiʻe, Hawaiian falsetto singing.  And who does it better than the legendary Hoʻopiʻi Brothers?!

I was riding the subway downtown this week and my music was playing in “shuffle” mode. This song came on and it brought an instant smile to my face–which is really saying something since it was a packed subway car during rush hour!

The song has that powerful paniolo (cowboy) feeling built into it.  A wonderful and wild strum on the guitar and ʻukulele.  And fantastic harmonies in their distinctive soaring vocals.

Come on.  It’s so ʻono!

4. Hana Calls (Ernie Cruz Jr.’s recording on the album Portraits)

This song has been a favorite for a long time.

I first heard it on a Kaʻau Crater Boys album, Tropical Hawaiian Day.  The song was fast and fun.  And it featured their distinctive brand of harmonies and ʻukulele flair.

I was thrilled to hear it again on Ernie Cruz Jr.s solo album.  A blast from the past.  A little slower than the earlier version, but still a song that moves along like a sailboat that’s caught a good gust of wind.

(Interesting to note that the Kaʻau Crater Boys recording is in the key of G while Ernie Cruz Jr.’s solo recording is a fourth higher–in the key of C.  When I’ve had the pleasure of singing it with slack key guitar players, I like to sing it in G–it’s an easy/friendly key for them.  But when I’m jamming the song by myself, I like to do it in C.)

*Please click HERE to visit Ernie Cruz, Jr.’s myspace page

5. Liloa’s Mele (Sonny Chillingwoth’s recording on the album Endlessly)

I love kī hōʻalu (slack key guitar) music!  It’s no secret.

And Uncle Sonnyʻs masterful touch makes everyone of his recordings a delight to listen to.

I needed to listen to something soothing the other night. (Insomnia and I have become friends, again.)  I started looking through my collection of slack key albums and put together a playlist of songs that would soothe my stressed nerves.  It was heavenly.

And this song was a favorite, for sure.

But I have to admit that I had a hard time just closing my eyes and listening to it–or I should say I had a hard time listening to it mindlessly.  As I listened, I had to sit up.  I had to imagine what his fingers must have looked like while he played this song on the guitar.  A real master.

The album’s liner notes tell a nice story about how the song was written for one of Uncle Sonny’s grandchildren.  What a legacy he’s left for them!

*Please click HERE to visit Dancing Cat Records’ Sonny Chillingworth page.

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

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at www.mele.com for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!

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