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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 1, 2010

CD reviews: Makalei, Waipuna, Various Artists, Brittni Paiva

By Wayne Harada
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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'Pehea Ka Lawai'a'
Hawaiian, contemporary
Makalei Music

Makalei is Stew Kawakami and Mike Judd, and is named after the fish-luring branch of the goddess Haumea. Its sound is sweetly, simply Island to the core, though the duo embrace borrowed standards.

Overview: These local boys love the water — surfing, paddling, fishing —and there's spirited buoyancy in their harmonies; check the title tune, plus "Lei Aloha Lei Makamae."

For flashback cheer, soar with "Come Fly With Me" and "The Wonderful World of Aloha."

3 stars

Sample song: "Oceans Away" by Makalei


'Mana'o Pili'
Contemporary Hawaiian
Poki Records

Waipuna literally means "spring water." Kale Hannahs and Matthew Sproat, who comprise this new duo, figuratively delve into riches that reflect growth and life — what water promotes.

Overview: Hannahs is formerly of the award-winning 'Ale'a group and Sproat is an award-winning falsetto stylist, so the credentials are superb. Waipuna scopes the wells of Island favorites, reviving "Papa Sia," "Kiss Me Love," and "Mana'o Pili."The Sproat family is linked with the seldom-heard "Owl's Lullaby," and the newbies include "Ka Ulu Niu O Waipouli," certain to become hula standards. Waipuna's vocal and instrumental synthesis is first-rate, sounding vintage but vibrant for a new generation of listeners.

4 stars

Sample song: "Home" by Waipuna


'Ike O Na Kumu Hula'
Lamaku Society

This one, from the Lamaku Society, is more scholarly and historical than entertaining. Over two CDs, a dozen kumu hula and their hālau — the likes of Puanani Alama, Kealii Ceballos, Keawe and Tracie Lopes, Tony Conjugacion, Healani Youn, Kunewa Mook and Napua Greig — share 25 mele and mana'o (including oral histories) originally recorded in 2008-09.

Overview: Preservation is the focus here, as kumu hula recount and retell tales of old Hawaii in vivid chant style, typified by "Kui Molokai," with implements; some cuts, like "Ka Makani Kaili Aloha," are instrumental support. The feeling is raw, the flavor authentic, with both known and rare treasures, each with its own allure, like pearls on a necklace.

4 stars

Sample song: "Aloha No Na Pua" by Various Artists


'Four Strings: The Fire Within'
'Ukulele instrumentals
Talamidin Productions

Brittni Paiva's time may have finally come: she generates heat and excitement aplenty on her newest CD, where she strums and plucks with flair and genius.

Overview: Paiva has selected a repertoire with global punch and her performance is both fiery and nuanced. The intensity can be felt on "Tamacun," a challenging piece with swiftly switching melodies; the interpretation is tender and reflective on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"; the poignancy of Carlos Santana's "Europa" is lasting. Paiva's fingers converse without words.

4 stars

Sample song: "Tamacun" by Brittni Paiva