Vol. 12, Issue 145 - Friday, May 25, 2007

Island Mele CD Review

by John Berger

Mahoa ia Hawai`i

Maui Jam

Slack key guitarist Al Nip and bassist Jon Toda are the core members of this Valley Isle-based ensemble. With the addition of Fulton Tashombe on piano, Geronimo Valdriz on steel guitar, and Fea-B-Lei Alcomidras joining Nip and Toda on vocals, and Maui Jam expands into a quintet that plays Hawaiian standards in that nahenahe (sweet, melodious) style.

The opening bars of "Ka Makani Ka'ili Aloha" suffice to establish Nip's ki ho'alu credentials, while the discrete presence of Valdriz's steel guitar provides reassurance that the members of Maui Jam are traditionalists through and through.

Valdriz is featured more prominently on "Hi'ilawe," but his solo maintains the nahenahe feel of the arrangement. He's also an asset on "Nani No 'O Koali," and adds to the dreamy ambiance of "Hula o Makee." All in all, there's enough steel guitar here to make the album of interest to aficionados of that particular instrument.

While Tashombe is heard less often, he, too, makes welcome contributions to several beautiful arrangements. His piano defines the beautiful melodic line of "E Ku'u Morning Dew," and provides similarly welcome melodic embellishments to a soothing and romantic arrangement of "Wahine 'Ilikea."

The beauty of his piano can also be heard on "Iesu Me Ke Kanaka Waiwai" and "Ua Mau," and Tashombe joins the others on "Hawai'i Aloha," as Maui Jam closes this soft and sweet album on a gentle yet patriotic note.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Island Sounds CD Review

by Wayne Harada

Mahoa ia Hawai`i

by Maui Jam; MJ Records

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