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Posts Tagged ‘IZ’

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. Coconut Island (Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenders’ recording on the album The Wandering Troubadours)

Vintage Hawaiian music rocks my little piece of the world. Listening to those voices from the past (both distant and not-so distant) is so rewarding! I learn something every time. Something from every song and every singer.

I was talking with a fellow musician recently about this song–and songs like it. She said she hated this kind of music. She felt it made Hawaiʻi (and the other Pacific Island nations) sound like a cliche. Something you’d see in a postcard. Not realistic. An oversimplified picture of “tropical paradise.” And I understand what she’s saying–to a certain extent.

But to HATE a song like this is such a shame. I mean, it was written by Andy Cummings!  (Note: Please check out the album’s liner notes for the story behind this song.  It’s great!)

While I’m all for painting a realistic portrait of Hawaiʻi, I think it’s important to honor this tradition.  There were moments where this particular place mentioned in the song truly WAS a tropical paradise. And when I’m hanging out and singing with the kūpuna/elders on Molokai, it’s not unusual to hear a song like this… It is full of references found in songs of that time. It’s sweet. It’s nostalgic. It’s an important part of Hawaiian musical history. To ignore it or even dismiss it is a shame.  I love it!  (Ok… I’ll get off of my soapbox now.  Ha!)

And the song has all of the fantastic earmarks of the era!  Andy Cummings is one of my favorite Hawaiian crooners.  He can make you swoon when he croons.

2. La ʻElima (Diana Aki’s recording on the album Troubled Paradise)

A famous song that’s been recorded by many folks. But this week, it was Aunty Diana Aki’s version that stole my heart.

The song talks about a tidal wave that struck the fishing village of Miloliʻi on February 5th, 1898 (La ʻelima o Pepeluali.)

There’s something magical in the way she sings the song. A simple accompaniment helps to bring it to life–and doesn’t diminish the song or the story.  And Aunty Diana’s voice…WOW!  Folk-style and refinement married beautifully (seamlessly!) in one voice!

For another great telling of the story, please check out the book CLOUDS OF MEMORIES by Aunty Mona Kahele.  It’s an outstanding book full of great stories and information by an elder from the island of Hawaiʻi.

3. Niʻihau (Nā Palapalai’s recording on the album Nanea)

From the spoken introduction by a beloved kupuna/elder to the last note, this song R.O.C.K.S!

In their signature harmonies, Nā Palapalai soar into the stratosphere in modulation after modulation with amazing falsetto!  The song feels like a traditional hula–and yet it’s “amped up” by a piano–something my ear isn’t used to hearing in many Hawaiian recordings.  What a wonderful addition!

Triple love it.  Start to finish-they take you on a journey, for sure.  Amazing!

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

(Their new album comes out at the end of the month!  Uihā!  I can’t wait!)

4. Hele on to Kauaʻi (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s recording on the album E Ala Ē)

When I listen to the voice of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, I’m instantly transported back to a different time.  His voice helped introduce me to Hawaiian music.  His voice acted as a touchstone for me when my world was dark and cloudy.  An anchor keeping me grounded and steady.  And HAPPY!

This song always makes me smile.  Love it.  Love the bouncy ʻukulele that accompanies his gentle voice.  Love the echo/reverb that’s used–it almost makes his voice sound like it’s coming from so far away.  Love the song’s lyrics–how it describes the magical “Garden Isle” of Kauaʻi.

A great song + an amazing singer = a winning combination.

*Please click HERE to visit the official IZ website.

5. Beautiful Hula Dancer (John Keawe’s recording on the album Beautiful Hula Dancer)

Today is the birthday of my friend, Hope Keawe.  (Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e Hope!)  So it only seems fitting to close out this week’s TOP 5 list with a song written about her!  (She really IS a beautiful hula dancer!)

Her husband, the amazing John Keawe, wrote this song about his wife–she’s his beloved companion and his muse!

And the song is awesome.  Listen to it.  You’ll see what I mean….  (And have a tissue handy to dry your eyes!)

*Please click HERE to visit John’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Hope’s page on John’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″ (2.22.12)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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. Kamalani (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s recording on the album In Concert – The Man And His Music)

I love a good live album, don’t you?  If it’s done well, it’s like being there and seeing it happen.  And I love when the artist does things in the live recording that they don’t do in the “studio versions.”

This track opens with the incomparable Braddah IZ telling the audience about the song and the story.

And then he launches into it.  So beautiful and so haunting.

(Every time I hear this song, I think about my musical brother, Tommy Cheng, and how much fun we have playing and singing it.  Tommy!  We need to jam soon!)

*Please click HERE to visit IZ’s official website.

2. Ipo Hula (Genoa Keawe’s recording on the album Genoa Keawe Sings Lūʻau Hulas)

When I find myself  ”down in the dumps,” I know surefire way to feel better:  listen to an Aunty Genoa recording!

Her joy–the joy of singing and sharing Hawaiian music–comes through so clearly!

And her distinctive strumming style makes me grin from ear to ear.  It’s instantly recognizable–even before she sings, you know it’s Aunty Genoa.

Attributed to Aunty Lena Machado, this simple-to-strum (only 4 chords!) is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

*Please click HERE to visit Aunty Genoaʻs website.

3. Maile Swing (Leinaʻala Haʻili’s recording on the album Best of Leinaʻala)

How much fun is this song?!

Seriously, gang.   Makes me grin from ear to ear.  Attributed to John K. Almeida, this song lives up to it’s name–IT SWINGS!

And with a voice like Aunty Leinaʻalas, how can you go wrong?

Another song that should be a part of every Hawaiian crooner’s repertoire.

4. Naturally (Kalapana’s recording on the album The Best of Kalapana Vol. 1)

When I’m in need of a great 70′s vibe, I turn to Kalapana.

Yup.  They rock my world.  And this song makes me feel like I’m riding around in big ol’ car with the windows rolled down and warm summer wind blowing in my face.

Gets me every time.

5.  Puka Pants (Chris Yeaton’s recording on the album The Stand)

Chris Yeaton has such a magical touch on the guitar.   The sound of sunshine, I think.  Like the sound of light making dancing rings on the water.

And this classic song gets a royal treatment, Yeaton-style!

I think he’s an amazing musician.  And an amazingly cool guy, too.

*Please click HERE to visit Chris’ page on the Woodsong Acoustics Group site.

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″ (12.21.11)

Wednesday, December 21, 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. Mahina O Hoku (Dennis Pavao’s recording on the album Keiki Kupuna)

One of my favorite songs (a crooner classic!) recorded by one of my favorite singers.  Kind of a perfect combination, wouldn’t you say?

This song, attributed to Lilian Awa, talks about the night before the full moon.  Two lovers.  A secluded beach.  (Dot…dot…dot…)

In this version, Uncle Dennis presents the song with his beautiful leo kiʻekiʻe (falsetto) in a soothing way.  And he presents each verse two times–a hula dancer’s dream.  Note:  He doesn’t sing the third verse that’s sometimes included.

I love the golden crooning of Uncle Dennis Pavao.  I’m so glad we have his recordings–we can still thrill to his voice.

•Please click HERE to see a tribute page to Uncle Dennis Pavao.

2. Hiʻilawe (Ernie Tevares’ recording on the album Hukilau Hulas)

I was on the treadmill at the gym the other day and this version of the classic song, Hiʻilawe, came on.  It was different from others that I was familiar with.  Bouncier.  I loved it.  I loved it so much that I had to look to see who recorded it.  (Note to self: Stop the treadmill before attempting to read anything.  I practically wiped out!)

Only after I got home and searched the internet did I learn about the amazing musician, Ernie Tevares.  I’m blown away by what I read about him.   Coming from a classical “conservatory background”, I’m always so humbled when I learn about self-taught musicians that are so talented they’d make the best “conservatory trained” musicians bow down to their abilities.  I wish I could be like that!

This is a great recording and one I will go back to again and again.  And it’s bouncy tempo made for some great listening time while I was running!

*Please click HERE to read a little bit about Ernie Tevares and his brother, Freddie.

3. Panini Puakea (Israel Kamakwiwoʻole’s recording on the album Facing Future)

Ah!  This recording brings back such memories!

Like so many folks, Facing Future was one of my very first Hawaiian albums.  I remember listening to it–and THIS SONG in particular!–in my tiny studio apartment in NYC’s Lower East Side.  Ok… it was really more like a closet.  But when this song played, it felt like the whole space opened up.  Even a gloomy NYC winter’s day became sunny.

Long before I had dreams of even visiting Hawaii, I loved this song. And the healing sounds of Braddah IZ’s voice and ʻukulele.

The song, attributed to John K. Almeida, talks about a favorite flower.  And I think it would be easy for one to see the similarities between the flower and a beloved.  But that’s just my take on it…

Magical, indeed.

*Please click HERE to visit IZ’s official website.

4. Falling (Keahiwai’s recording on the album Satisfied)

Listening to Keahiwai takes me back to the first time I went to Hawaiʻi.  I’d gone to Oʻahu for a friend’s wedding.  We were cruising around Waikīkī and I heard their music a lot on the radio.  My hula/ʻukulele friends and I had been listening to their debut album, Local Girls, a lot.  But the sound made so much sense when I got to Oʻahu and breathed the same air, saw the same sights, tasted the same tastes, heard the same sounds.

(It was on that trip that I also learned a lot of the music that made sense to my ears in NYC seemed loud and grossly out of place in Hawaiʻi!)

Simple.  Sweet.  Awesome.  (Makes me wanna close my eyes and sway.)

*Please click HERE to visit the Keahiwai’s official website. (And let ‘em know we miss them and want more music!)

5. Keʻala’s Mele (Leonard Kwan’s recording on the album Hawaiian Slack Key Masters Vol. 1)

This album served as my introduction to kī hōʻalu (slack key guitar) and I still love it.  What a great collection of so many amazingly talented musicians!

This track, recorded by the incredibly gifted Mr. Leonard Kwan, is pretty close to heaven.  I mean, I imagine this is what heaven must sound like.  The guitar is “honeyed’ and golden and sparkles.  The way light might dance along the water.

Love it.  And I love the way it makes me feel… (So thankful for recordings like this!)

*Please click HERE to read Leonard’s bio from Dancing Cat Records.

**Christmas Bonus Song:  Do You Hear What I Hear (Keola Beamer’s recording on the album Kī Hōʻalu Christmas)

This “traditional” Christmas song is magical.  And Keola’s recording captures the magic and mystery of Christmas for me. It brings to mind all sorts pictures–wise men following a star.  A deep blue-indigo night.  If something could be called perfect, this is it.

(**Crooner Note:  The whole album is fantastic!  This is something that plays all season in our home!)

*Please click HERE to visit Keola’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″ (9.7.11)

Wednesday, September 7, 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.  Nohea (Kealoha Kalama’s recording on the album Hawaiian Classics)

A hula classic!  And sung by a woman who is not only a kumu hula (master hula teacher) but also a recipient of the Hawaiian Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award!

I love the song.  And I love the “old-school” sound that Aunty Kealoha brings.  A strong sense of legato line allows for the hula dancer to dance smoothly and evenly–even if the tempo is quick.

According to this album’s liner notes, this recording was part of a 1979 release, Pohai Kealoha.  Sadly, I think that album is now out of print.  But I’m grateful to have a recording of this fantastic track!

2.  The Water Is Wide (Moe Keale’s recording on the album Imagine)

Uncle Moe Keale’s voice knocks my socks off.

While this song doesn’t have Hawaiian origins (different sources list it as an English or Scottish song) Uncle Moe makes it sound like a Hawaiian song.

I’ve heard so many other wonderful recordings of this classic, but Uncle Moe’s is the version that made me stop and listen.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it: it brought a tear to my eye…

A simple arrangement, featuring the sound of an ʻukulele, allows for the voice to really convey the meaning of the lyrics.  Stunning.

3. Lei Pua Kenikeni (Mark Yamanaka’s recording on the album Lei Pua Kenikeni)

Ah!  What a voice!  And what a song!

I can’t get enough of Mark Yamanka’s sweet falsetto.  It’s AWESOME!  It makes me smile from ear to ear.  (And small-kine jealous, too!  Nah… not really…)

This song, attributed to John Kameaaloha Almeida, celebrates the beauty of the magnificent pua kenikeni, a favorite flower of many of my friends.

If you want to listen to sweet falsetto, look no further.  This is it!

4.  White Sandy Beach (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s recording on the album Facing Future)

I was in a store the day and this song started playing over the sound system.  Yes… I’ve heard it a million times.  Yes, it’s a contemporary classic.  And yes… it still made me cry.

I love the song.  I love its gentle and simple lyrics.  I love how the ʻukulele picks a delicate a solo line.

And, OF COURSE, I love the voice of the one and only Bruddah IZ.

This song–no matter where or when I hear it–makes me stop to listen.  Mahalo e IZ for sharing this recording with all of us.  (We miss you!)

5.  Sophisticated Hula (Herb Ohta, Jr.’s recording on the album ʻUkulele Dream)

You all know how much I love the ʻukulele, right?  It’s no secret.  I’m just a simple strummer.

But when I listen to someone like Herb Ohta, Jr. play the ʻukulele as a lead instrument, it makes my heart smile.  I love this hapa haole tune and I love the arrangement he plays–with the ʻukulele “singing” the lead voice.

Listening to him makes me want to learn how to pick instead of just strum.  He’s fantastic!!

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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