Two formidable artists pooled their talents in creating this long-awaited second album by Kainani Kahaunaele. One of course is Kahaunaele herself; her debut album, "Na’u ‘Oe," won a Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Most Promising Artist, Hawaiian Language Performance and Female Vocalist of the Year in 2004, and this one will certainly be a contender in the latter two categories in 2011. The other is producer-musician Shawn Pimental, whose career credits include a Hoku Award for producing Na Palapalai’s 2003 Album of the Year winner, "Makani ‘Olu’olu." It is a very promising partnership.
Kahaunaele opens the album with "Eia Ke Aloha," a bilingual hapa-haole original that she sings in a style reminiscent of Phoebe Snow. Almost everything that follows is contemporary, but traditionalist in style.
Aaron Sala guests on piano on "Pua’ala," one of several memorable pure Hawaiian originals. "Nani Wale Ku’uki" also stands out as a beautiful demonstration of Kahaunaele’s talents as a vocalist and songwriter.
Thorough documentation is an essential part of any Hawaiian album, and Kahaunaele provides it online, with lyrics, translations and additional information at www.kainani.com. (Click on "music.")
‘Return To Paradise Islands’
No American recording artist did more to popularize Hawaiian and hapa-haole music outside the islands during the first half of the 20th century than Bing Crosby. The songs Crosby recorded in 1937 for "Waikiki Wedding" became international hits—"Sweet Leilani," "Blue Hawaii" and "In A Little Hula Heaven" in particular—and his involvement with Hawaii’s music didn’t stop there.
The crooner’s recording of "Mele Kalikimaka" made R. Alex Anderson’s composition the pre-eminent hapa-haole Christmas song of the century.
Crosby also released two albums of Hawaiian music on 78 rpm records (a total of 20 songs) in 1946.
This new reissue is another example of Crosby’s involvement with Hawaiian music as a high-profile entertainer, bringing back into print an album he recorded for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label in 1963. Nelson Riddle did the arrangements and conducted the sessions. The results provide fascinating examples of how Hawaiian and hapa-haole standards have been adapted and rearranged in other parts of the world. Some of the lyrics are Hawaiian, and most of the composers are Hawaii residents, but the arrangements are classic mainstream pop.
"Adventures in Paradise" stands out in that respect, but songs of that type are also an important chapter in the history of Hawaiian music.
Archivist Robert Bader completes this welcome reissue with an extra six tracks Crosby recorded with a quartet for a radio show in the ’60s. The sound is much closer to Hawaiian, and Crosby’s renditions of "My Little Grass Shack" and "The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai" are therefore much closer to his unforgettable rendition of "Mele Kalikimaka."