Winds of Waimanalo Makapuu Sand Band HOCD 58000 Cord International/Hana Ola Records PO Box 152, Ventura, CA 93002 A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Jamie O'Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
During the 1970s, Hawaiian music experienced something of a revival. It was during this decade that musicians like Gabby Pahinui, Sonny Chillingworth and Eddie Kamae set new standards for others to follow. And follow they did; a whole new generation, inspired to continue and develop the traditional music of Hawaii.
The Makapuu Sand Band formed during this period, a quartet consisting of Andrew Iaukea Bright III (guitar, steel guitar, vocals), David Kananikamehameha Kamai (guitar, vocals), Albert Ronnie Kaai (slack key guitar, vocals) and Job Maluhia Harris (bass). The four were cousins coming from a musical family. And like many family groups, they created a tight sound, vocally and instrumentally.
Acoustic guitar forms the backbone of the arrangements. Mostly strummed, though occasionally featuring slack key picking in traditional style, the guitars provide a solid, warm accompaniment. The three guitars are often featured simultaneously, each adding texture with the different strumming patterns and chord voicings rather than drawing attention away from the vocals with lead work.
Add to this the ever-present bass and occasional melody breaks on lead guitar or steel. The result is reliable rather than adventurous musicianship, steering the listener to the voices more than anything else. The band was aware of its greatest strength, singing.
Seven of the songs are in Hawaiian, four in English, with what sounds like two of the singers sharing lead. Each has a distinctive voice, yet there is a constant gentle quality - this is nahenahe (sweet and soft, typically Hawaiian) at its best. The harmonies weave in and around the melodies with judicious use of falsetto in both lead and backup, as with the instruments creating different layers.
For a young players, these musicians show a great deal of maturity in their approach on this, their second album. They have a great understanding of the old Hawaiian sounds with their close harmonies and attractive accompaniment. Yet there is also a youthful exuberance in their choice of material and interpretations as they show the influence of mainland music.
It's difficult to single out particular highlights from the album, though Sol Bright's Hawaiian Scotsman, actually sung by Iaukea's father Sampson Kuahiwiakala Bright in a delightful Scottish accent, is a bundle of fun. And the intricate vocals of Kualoa are spellbinding.
I have been spoiled by earlier Cord International/Hana Ola Records. The liner notes are minimal on this release and the album itself only lasts around 33 minutes. But presumably these limitations were dictated by the original recording. And looking on the bright side, sometimes less is more: there is very little to fault with the quality of performance, the choice of material or the excellent production.
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