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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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JAZZ GOES HAWAIIAN

Retrieval RTR 79037

 

 

 


1. I'll Fly to Hawaii - Gowans' Rhapsody Makers
2. Sunny Hawaii - Gowans' Rhapsody Makers
3. Chili Blues - Castle Farms Serenaders
4. Hula Girl - Andrew Aiona Novelty Four
5. Paahana - Andrew Aiona Novelty Four
6. Keko - Andrew Aiona Novelty Four
7. Hilo - Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio with Aiona's Saxophones
8. Na Alii - Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio with Aiona's Saxophones
9. That Lovin' Hula - Andrew Aiona Novelty Four
10. Song of the Islands - Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
11. Tickling the Strings - King Nawahi's Hawaiians
12. Kalua - Spike Hughes and his Orchestra
13. Honolulu Blues - Red Nichols and his Five Pennies
14. Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (Hawaiian Love Song) - Red Nichols and his Five Pennies
15. Minnehaha - Andy Iona Islanders
16. Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai (Hawaiian War Chant) - Andy Iona Islanders
17. To You, Sweetheart, Aloha - Louis Armstrong with Andy Iona Islanders
18. On a Cocoanut Island - Louis Armstrong with Andy Iona Islanders
19. On a Little Bamboo Bridge - Louis Armstrong with Andy Iona Islanders
20. Hawaiian Hospitality - Louis Armstrong with Andy Iona Islanders
21. Why Do Hawaiians Sing Aloha? - Fats Waller and his Rhythm
22. Hoohihi Oe Ke Ike Mai - Mannie Klein and his Swing-a-Hulas
23. Malihini Mele (As I Strolled Along the Shore) - Mannie Klein and his Swing-a-Hulas
24. Moonlight in Waikiki - Mannie Klein and his Swing-a-Hulas

 

 

Hawaiian music is inextricably associated with the Hawaiian guitar, which takes me back to my youth, when I enjoyed the music of Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders. Felix was a descendant of the famous classical composer of the same name, and his orchestra featured the Hawaiian guitar, apparently invented in the late 19th century in Hawaii by Joseph Kekuku. It creates a glissando or portamento effect by sliding a metal bar along the strings. It is also know as the steel guitar or lap steel guitar (because it is laid flat on the player's lap).

So you might expect all the tunes on this album to feature that inimitable sound, mixed with jazz. In fact this is an assortment of tunes about Hawaii played by jazz musicians, and tracks recorded by Hawaiian musicians (although not every item could be called jazz). This may sound disappointing but the CD is actually an intriguing collection from several points of view.

From the jazz viewpoint, the album includes five tracks featuring Louis Armstrong, plus recordings by such jazzmen as Brad Gowans, Red Nichols, Fats Waller and Mannie Klein. The first two tracks are from 1927 - by a group led by multi-instrumentalist Brad Gowans. In style these sound very like Red Nichols' Five Pennies, who crop up later on the album with a couple of 1931 tracks. Despite their titles, these recordings betray very little Hawaiian influence, but they are still respectable examples of the small-group jazz of their periods. Fulton McGrath's twinkling piano and Jimmy Dorsey's fluent clarinet are outstanding on Honolulu Blues. Both Nichols tracks benefit from drummer Vic Berton's trademark playing on tuneable tympani. Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (actually written for the 1916 musical Robinson Crusoe, Jr.) has become a stable part of the trad-jazz repertoire.

The Louis Armstrong tracks date from the 1930s. The first - Song of he Islands - has Louis accompanied by his orchestra and includes a solo from trombonist J. C. Higginbotham, as well as a solo and scat vocals from Louis. The four other Armstrong recordings teamed Louis in 1936 with Andy Iona and his Islanders. Andy's steel guitar adds appropriate Hawaiian flavour. The first two of these four tracks have Lionel Hampton on drums and vibes.

Andy Iona's Islanders are also heard on a couple of 1934 tracks, including Hawaiian War Chant - probably the best-known Hawaiian song, with its incomprehensible but catchy chanting. It was a hit for Tommy Dorsey and (I think) Felix Mendelssohn, as well as being parodied by Spike Jones. Iona (with his name spelt in the earlier form  "Aiona") also leads his Novelty Four, although Andy here plays the alto sax. Tracks like Keko are very reminiscent of Bix Beiderbecke's groups. But Aiona's two recordings with Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio are popular songs rather than jazz pieces.

Chili Bluesused the steel guitar as early as 1928, although the sound quality is poor because this is a rare disc (the sleeve-note says that the copy used here is only one known to exist). Tickling the Strings is a jolly number by a guitar trio. Kalua (a Jerome Kern composition) is one of the recordings made by a group led by bassist Spike Hughes in London in 1930, with strong trumpet from Norman Payne. And Fats Waller brings his inimitable goodwill and swing to Why Do Hawaiians Sing Aloha? with Ceele Burke on steel guitar. The three tracks by Mannie Klein's band feature his versatile trumpet.

This compilation of recordings from 1926 to 1938 is sensibly arranged in chronological order. It illustrates how American and Hawaiian music influenced each other. The album documents a mixture of styles which is interesting musically as well as historically.

Tony Augarde

 

 



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