Tuesday, July 26, 2005

'70s Salute to Our Troops

Getting closer and the excitement is building. Here's the most recent update from the Hawaii '72 website.

Ticket Sales Strong for
August 12th Event at Ilikai
More than 200 people were turned away at the Hawaiian Hut last year when Hawaii '72 held its inaugural benefit featuring pop superstar Liz Damon.

Suzi Shimada

Organizers are taking no chances this year. "We've moved the event to the Ilikai's Pacific Ballroom, and we hope that'll be big enough," said chairperson Suzi Shimada. She says ticket sales are brisk for the "'70s Salute to Our Troops," set for Friday, August 12, a fundraiser for the 29th Support Battalion of the Hawaii Army National Guard. Proceeds will go toward a homecoming celebration for soldiers deployed in Iraq.

The featured performer of the evening will be the former leader of the '70s pop group Liz Damon and the Orient Express, who now resides in Las Vegas. She'll be singing her Hawaii hit songs including "1900 Yesterday" and "Me Japanese Boy." “I always look forward to going home and to perform in front of fans who remember the good old days,” said Damon.

King Pins


Also in the guest lineup is the former lead guitarist of the Orient Express. Les Hee will perform songs of the King, Elvis Presley, an impression he was noted for. "I can't wait to wipe his sweat," says Jan Heiser, Hawaii '72 committee member.


Other guest performers are also being lined up, including a certain top government leader who happens to be a member of the Class of '72. The rest of the evening will be filled with dance music from Hawaii's top oldies bands - the King Pins, Flashback, Greenwood and the Soulz.

The event will run from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., and includes a make-it-yourself nacho buffet bar. Tickets are $30 ($20 tax deductible), and can be purchased at the Ilikai by calling 944-6372 or fellow Hawaii '72 classmates Pearl Powell at 259-8976, email to: hanigyrl@aol.com or Annette Lehano at 668-9627 or 956-4174, email to: lehanohall@yahoo.com. VIP reserved tables of 10 are available for $500 by calling Shimada at 864-7718.

"This is to show our young men and women in uniform how much we appreciate their service,” said Shimada, whose son Ross is on active duty in Iraq. "And it's also a chance for us baby boomers and others to have a whole lot of fun."

Get your tickets early in case its another sellout event!

Liz Damon.....Now this is real cool!!!!!

With the '70s tribute to the troops featuring Liz Damon right around the corner I couldn't help but order a copy of Liz Damon's Orient Express first album now available as a CD on the internet. Hey, you know how it is, get the CD personally autographed, after all deep down inside the depths of our hearts all of us singers and musicians are really the biggest groupies there could ever be. In a matter of a few weeks we will be on the same marquee as one of Hawaii's most unforgettable entertainer. Hooo hooo!!!! Wow!!! I opened the wrapping of the CD and started to listen. It brought back memories of the same Liz Damon album I had purchased in the early '70s. Man, the harmonies and the voices are sweet, real sweet, quite haunting if you ask me. And the liner notes? Quite a morsel, lots of things to interest the diehard music fan. If you get a chance get the CD on the internet. I got it for
$ 12.99 plus shipping.

Here's something else that I found on the internet that is excellent reading. Enjoy Steve Mandich's biography, get the CD and see you on Friday, August 12, 2005 at the Ilikai Hotel.

1900 Yesterday
A Killer by Liz Damon's Orient Express

When I lived in Portland a few years ago, I got in the habit of tuning in the local "Mature Adult Contemporary" station, Sunny 910. The geriatric AM frequency spun "original hits of the '40s, '50s, and '60s," and, though their slogan didn't mention it, the '70s too. Mixed in among the easy-listening powerhouses (Sinatra, Como, Mathis) and the stinkers (Reddy, Lightfoot, Newton-John) were a few swell acts that were new to me (Brubeck, Denny, Getz).

Once every few months this one particularly amazing song would come on that I'd never heard elsewhere, usually in the middle of the night. I was instantly grabbed by its spine-tingling, ethereal female vocals, singing an infectious, broken-hearted melody about lost love, along with this cryptic chorus:

Like smoke from a cigarette
Dreams that you soon forget
It's fading away
And it's 1900 yesterday

What's that all about?

After I caught the tune for maybe just the third time in a year, I typed "1900 Yesterday" into a search engine and, sure enough, discovered it to be the title of the song, performed by an outfit called Liz Damon's Orient Express. The group's debut single, written by some guy named John Cameron, peaked at #33 on the Billboard charts in February 1971.

I found a copy of the single in December 1998 and played it over and over across the following year. While its B-side, "You're Falling in Love," wasn't worth a second listen, the A-side haunted me, fueling my pre-millennium tension (I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the media's Y2K doomsday hype did have me a little spooked). Still, I couldn't resist repeated listenings, wondering if, way back when, Liz Damon and company were onto something prophetic.

Namely, was "1900 Yesterday" some kind of premonition about digital clocks unable to recognize 01/01/00 at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve? Would computers really roll back a full century, causing global blackouts, planes dropping from the sky, the accidental launch of nuclear warheads and scores of other catastrophes? More than Prince's "1999" or that Jennifer Lopez video any of the other stupid millennium-themed tunes by Sting or Will Smith, I'll forever associate the turn of the century with this weird song.

Of course, the new century arrived, the world didn't end and things for the most part were fine, so I set out to find more music by the Orient Express. However, it became quickly apparent that the sublime "1900" isn't representative of group's overall sound, none of which is even half as breathtaking.

They had a late-'60s/ early-'70s boy-girl pop-vocal vibe, calling to mind Spanky and Our Gang. The combo's pleasant, breezy tunes were often punctuated with a lively horns and a bit of the period's light exotica, à la the Sandpipers or Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. Though the band hailed from Hawaii, their music was more suited for a cocktail lounge than a luau. A xylophone added a vaguely tropical air to some cuts, but there were no discernable ukuleles or slack-key guitars.

Still, based of the strength of their smashing debut single, a brief overview of the rest of their recorded output is in order. Here it is:

At the Garden Bar, Hilton Hawaiian Village
Makaha Records, 1970

The Orient Express began its performing career with a year-and-a-half-long gig as the house band of the Garden Bar, a lounge at Waikiki's Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is the beachfront high-rise hotel with the big rainbow painted on its side.

Despite the debut album's title (which suggests a live disc), ATGB was laid down at Annex Studio in Los Angeles and Commercial Recording in Honolulu. It was released by Makaha Records, but White Whale soon picked it up and reissued it simply as Liz Damon's Orient Express, and released the opening track, "1900 Yesterday," as its lead single.

The group recorded no original material and instead covered contemporary hits and standards with their own unique arrangements, in this case the Beatles' "Something" and "Let it Be," the Carpenters' "Close to You" and Ray Stevens' unfunny "Everything is Beautiful." Other than "1900," the best moment in the band's catalogue is the arching chorus of the follow-up single, "But for Love."

The gatefold sleeve opens to reveal cutouts of the nine group members' heads, and high praise by the entertainment editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The back cover features a long shot of the Orient Express in action at the Garden Bar, all in matching costumes. Liz Damon is front and center, flanked by her backup singers/dancers: to her left is her sister Edda Damon, and on her right is Sydette Sakauye. Behind them is a six-man band; judging from their appearances, the name "Orient Express" apparently referred to their Asian roots.

Try a Little Tenderness
Delilah Records, 1970

Their second album includes the title track, Laura Nyro's "Time and Love," and a take on "Love Story." Anthem Records reissued the disc as Volume II and released two singles: the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune "Loneliness Remembers" b/w "The Quiet Sound"; and Paul Williams' "All In All" b/w Bacharach/David's "Walking Backwards Down The Road."

Anthem's release also had different cover art, replacing the cool line-drawings of Liz with an extreme close-up of a pair of airbrushed eyes (presumably hers). The cardboard cover itself had a slightly corrugated texture.

Sometime after the release of Tenderness, Sydette Sakauye left the band to pursue a solo career. She was replaced by Meri Pherson, who would later design and sew the group's outfits.

Me Japanese Boy (I Love You)
Delilah Records, 1973

The peppy title track of their third album, which was credited to "Liz Damon with the Orient Express," was written by Bacharach/David. Bobby Goldsboro took the song to #74 in August 1964, and the Pizzicato Five covered it on a 1998 release. LDOE's version hit #1 in Hawaii, and though it was more popular on a local level than "1900," it failed to chart nationally.

Four of the record's other ten cuts were penned by the loathsome Neil Sedaka, including the follow-up single, "I'm a Song (Sing Me)." They also covered Stevie Wonder's hit from the previous year, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life."

Heaven in My Heart
Domi Doncy Records, 1978

Liz herself wrote the title track of their fourth album, which also included the traditional Hawaiian song "More Better Go Easy" and Nat "King" Cole's "Unforgettable." The rest of the record pretty much consists of international standards like "Canadian Sunset," "Danny Boy," "Chanson d'Amour," and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave."

Interestingly, the back cover credits the "producer" as an international travel company, Cartan Tours, whose chairman wrote the liner notes. With a group taking the name of a famous railroad and performing songs about faraway lands, Cartan apparently thought the record would inspire listeners to book overseas vacations. Or maybe LDOE performed on cruises and peddled this album as a souvenir. In any case, this is the band's most solid long-player.

WARNING: This Album Could be HAZARDOUS to Your Ego!
Domi Doncy Records, 1979

"I asked Edda to record some of her favorite stories and little jokes," Liz wrote in the liner notes to this, her sister's debut comedy album, which Edda obviously did. Apparently the band cutup, Edda's side project includes bits called "The Job Interview," "The Chicken," "The Airplane," "First Man on the Sun," and "Kanimotoshita's Department Store." I haven't heard this one, so I can't say whether it's actually funny.


Besides the albums, I've also seen a bootleg video shot at the Lion's Den Lounge at the Reno MGM in 1983. The entirety of this unedited tape is shot in a single, continuous 45-minute take, panning across the stage and zooming in and out on the Orient Express in full-tilt performance. The front line of Liz, Edda and Meri dance with synchronized, Jazzercise-style moves. Liz, with her enormous fake eyelashes, wears a sparkling orange blouse matching slacks, while Edda and Meri wear black versions of the same. They all wear high heels.

The four-man backup band had only one Asian guy, the guitarist, down from the original six Asians with which they started out. With the bass player, drummer and keyboard player all haoles, they might've changed their name to Liz Damon's Empire Builder.

This live show, which includes lots of banter with the receptive audience, is much more rocking than any of their recorded material, from which they drew not a single song. The set opens with a cover of Toto's "I'll Supply the Love," followed by Paul Simon's gospel-influenced "Gone at Last" and medley of Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance To the Music" and Martha Reeves' "Dancing in the Street." Edda, who cracks jokes about men who don't put down the toilet seat, does some silly number about drinking too much tequila, and the drummer sings Lionel Ritchie's dumb hit "You Are." After concluding with another medley of songs which I didn't recognize, Liz introduced the individual band members, then announced they'd be back for late shows at 9:45 and 12:15.

Also on the video are a couple interview segments from local Reno news broadcasts. In the first one, Edda the jokester looks like Joan Jett, wearing sunglasses, a torn sweatshirt, leather pants and a spiked wristband (at least I hope she was goofing around). The second segment shows live footage of the group performing Dolly Parton's "9 to 5," with the singers wearing gold lamé outfits and headbands like John Travolta in Stayin' Alive.

The Orient Express also took their lounge act to Las Vegas, where they played a Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, as well as Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Japan.

After the group disbanded in the mid-'80s, Edda quit performing and moved to New Jersey, married, had a couple kids and currently works as drama coach for children. Meanwhile, Liz lives in Las Vegas with her husband and teenage son. She works at the Westward Ho as casino host and entertainment director, and still sings at private parties and conventions and coffee shops in the area. She plans to return to Hawaii someday.

All of the Orient Express' recordings are way out-of-print, except for "1900 Yesterday," which is available on a few compilation CDs. Following hits by the Turtles, Lyme & Cybelle and Nino & April, the song closes out the 21-track label anthology Happy Together: The Very Best Of White Whale Records, released in 1999 by Varese Sarabande. Otherwise, the marginal Top-40 hit has long since fallen through the cracks, and the group never charted again.

Still, while Liz Damon's Orient Express goes down in music history as just another one-hit wonder, what a wonderful hit it was.

Originally appeared in issue #14 of the print zine Scram, Summer 2001. Order it here.

© 2004-2005 Steve Mandich

Monday, July 25, 2005

Pauline Wilson....Songbird Extraordinaire

If I remember correctly Pauline Wilson (maiden name Abong) was originally from the big island of Hawaii. I remember Pauline singing at Andrews Amphitheatre up at the University of Hawaii at Manoa many years in the early '70s with the band Seawind who may still have been using the name Ox. It's been a while since then but Pauline's pipes were the perfect compliment to the Seawind band's instrument expertise. Here's a review by Chris Mann from the website "Smooth Jazz". The website is chock-full (no pun intended) of jazz info that is cool, cool, cool. Check the "Smooth Jazz" website out, it is cool indeed.

Pauline Wilson - Tribute

Hawaiian songstress Pauline Wilson was previously the lead singer and principal writer for the cult fusion outfit Seawind, which gained the respect of jazz and R&B lovers in the 1970’s and 80’s.

She has toured and recorded with artists as diverse as Bruce Hornsby, Celine Dion and The Crusaders.

“Tribute” is her second solo album and, as the title suggests, this is a set of classic songs made popular by other singers.

She’s assembled an impressive band. Check this – Harvey Mason, Alphonso Johnson, Lenny Castro, Larry Williams, Airto Moreira. That’s not even mentioning the top-flight horn players, several of whom are ex-Seawind members.

Most of the songs will no doubt be familiar to most people and so a track-by-track review would be largely pointless but I’d like to mention some highlights…

The haunting Rio de Janeiro Blue sounds about as strong as when Randy Crawford recorded it. This song sets the tone – only artists this good can create a sound so seductive.

Through the bluesy tracks such as Good Morning Heartache and Someone to Watch over Me, to the lively samba swing of Never Let Me Go, Ms. Wilson displays a real delicacy that’s grown on me the more I’ve listened to this CD. Never Let Me Go has strings to die for and the vocal, ah, is beautiful.

Instrumentally, I love the lyrical acoustic bass solo by Ken Wild on When I Fall in Love and the lush alto flute of Larry Williams on The Nearness of You. Alphonso Johnson's trademark fretless bass on this track is as taut and clean-sounding as ever.

Michael Paulo blows like Sanborn on I Want to be Around, which I appreciated because I don’t really like the song much. The vocal is very strident on this one – whether it works depends on your taste.

Jerry Hey’s bluesy, muted trumpet is perfect for my favourite Gershwin tune, Someone to Watch Over Me. This song is a masterpiece and Pauline and her stellar band give it due respect.

Jobim’s Dindi turns up frequently and this mid-tempo, very measured arrangement is very fresh and appealing. Listen for that man Wild again!

I’d be failing if I didn’t mention the contributions of two more guys. David Garfield has not only lent his arranging talent to this set but his crystal-clear acoustic piano washes over the listener throughout it. Recording and mixing engineer Steve Sykes has delivered a sound which has achieved something remarkable- playing this CD on a car stereo and a portable CD/radio is a satisfying experience which makes the equipment sound better than it is. On my big system, it should sound awesome.

OK, I went into more detail than I meant to. It’s just that I can’t normally get excited about an album of cover versions and I found one heck of a lot to like in “Tribute”.

McClees 2001 – producers David Garfield and Blue Johnson

Reviewed by Chris Mann

p.s. Don't forget to check out the link below to Pauline Wilson's official website.


Michael Paulo

Perhaps one of the most influential jazz musician to come out of the state of Hawaii is saxman Michael Paulo. I remember Michael Paulo many years ago in the early '70s as part of the high school dance band "Powerhouse Funk". We in the high school dance band circuit were totally in awe of the stuff this band was doing. While most of us bands were doing stuff like "Summer Sun" by the Jamestown Massacre and "Evil Ways" by Santana, Michael Paulo and the boys of "Powerhouse Funk" were tackling the complex stuff done by the legendary "Tower of Power", the uncut versions. To do this meant the band was talented, and that band was.

It's not a surprise to see where Michael Paulo is in the national music scene today, he comes from good music stock with his dad being none other than Hawaii jazz icon Rene Paulo. Michael's brother Irenio was in band with Aaron Aranita and myself at Waipahu High School playing drums and vibes. Other Paulo siblings of note include none other than Kathy Paulo, is it Kathy with a C or Kathy with a K? Oh well. Check out Michael Paulo's site. Good stuff. Makes us guys in Hawaii proud when a homegrown Hawaii talent makes the grade internationally. Cool!!!!


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hawaii International Jazz Festival

It'll be here before you know it. Next week Friday & Saturday at the beautifully renovated princess of theatres, the one and only Hawaii Theatre. Great lineup of Jazz greats, both local and international including guitar jazz legend Larry Coryell and the one and only Gabe Baltazar. Check out this lineup:

Friday July 29, 2005:

Larry Coryell-guitar jazz legend
Don Grusin & Makoto Ozone-grammy nominated pianist
Hawaiian Strings with Hoku winner Owana Salazar
Jeff Petersen-steel guitar Grammy winner
Abe Lagrimas, Jr.-ukulele virtuoso
DeShannon Higa-renown trumpet soloist

Saturday July 30, 2005:

Larry Coryell-guitar jazz legend
Gabe Baltazar-legendary saxophone master
Latin Soul with Scott Martin
Guest artists Ginai, Keahi Conjugacion, Kelly Covington
Waitiki and the HIJF All Star Big Band

Aaron Aranita will be on the grand piano on one of next Saturday's tribute tunes to Ray Charles. A big band arrangement done by Aaron Aranita with Gary Moore doing the honors in taking the vocal lead ala Ray Charles.

Click on the link at the bottom of this page for details. Sounds like it's gonna be a cool two night event in our tropical paradise!!!! Now that's cool, tropical and jazz!!!! Cool Tropical Jazz!!! Yes!!!!


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Now this is Cool & Tropical for sure

Ain't that picture cool??? Well this ain't about jazz, but if you live in the beautiful state of Hawaii we all know that in regards to sports entertainment that University of Hawaii Warrior football is what is really, really "cool" here. It was not so many years ago when the once proud college football program had hit rock, rock bottom. Totally uncool to hit the very, very bottom of the college football food chain. But amazingly, "then along came Jones", June Jones that is, to rescue the once proud program and bring cool back to the Hawaiian islands.A very controversial figure, but a cool guy, I remember June Jones back in my early college days at UH. There we were on the first day of class in Finance 300. Roll call time. Professor Freitas calls out, "June Jones, where is she". June, slouching in his chair, raised his hand. Yup, that was June Jones in my finance class. Who knew or who would have known that June would one day return to be our leader of our cool football program. Here's a link to the Wednesday, July 20, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser article written by Stephen Tsai and Ferd Lewis. Just a few weeks and them Trojans from USC will be in town. Hooooo hooooo!!!! Getting all excited to see the coolest sports entertainment in town back in gear. Now that is real cool and tropical!!!


All that "Jazz" in One Cool Website

So we know what's cool, and we know what's tropical, but, do we really know what's jazz? Louis Armstrong answered that question with this. "Man, if you gotta ask you'll never know". Well, just in case you still gotta ask, here's something I found that just might answer that question. The website is "apassion4jazz.net". Click the link below. Real nice site that answers a lot of questions. Now that's cool!!! Real cool!!!!


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dalton Tanonaka's '70s Salute to Our Troops

August 12, 2005 is right around the corner and will be here before you know it. Here's something that was passed on to me by my high school classmate Melanie. Thanks Mel. We are truly so blessed to live in a land that is free and a big part of our freedom is because of the sacrifice of our troops. See you there. By the way, anyone with a web picture of the Soulz? Been searching the web but haven't located one yet. Give me the website and I will try to add the picture on to this blog.

The King Pins with promoter Dalton Tanonaka


The former lead guitarist of the Orient Express will be joining the oldies lineup at the "'70s Salute to Our Troops" benefit event August 12 at the Renaissance Ilikai Hotel. Les Hee will join former group leader Liz Damon and other guest performers in the evening's program. Hee was known for his dead-on Elvis impressions, and promises to appear in full costume. "I can't wait to wipe his sweat," says Jan Heiser, a committee member of the sponsoring Hawaii '72 organization. Damon will be performing her big '70s hits including "1900 Yesterday" and "Me Japanese Boy." Other bands in the lineup will be the King Pins, Flashback, Greenwood and the Soulz.

The evening will run from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Proceeds from the event wil go toward a homecoming celebration for the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Support Battalion. Tickets are $30 ($20 tax deductible), and can be purchased at the Ilikai or by calling 944-6372.

For more information, go to http://www.hawaii72.com/.
CONTACT: Dalton Tanonaka, 728-0669

Dalton Tanonaka and Flashback



Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Colors of the Heart" by David Choy and Some Vintage DC

David Choy Sounds Crazy

But that's a good thing

By Elaine Gast

When David Choy plays the saxophone, he sees colors inside his head. Swirling, spinning, psychedelic colors.

Some people dream in color. For Choy, 43, all it takes is the horn. "When I improvise jazz on the spot, my mind totally relaxes," he said, shuffling in his Doc Martins, grinning a little uneasy behind his black moustache. "That's when the colors come."

For example, if it's a moderate tempo or what he calls a "dirty funk," Choy said he sees black and crimson. An energized melody, he sees shots of bright yellow. And if it's anything like a lullaby, he sees soothing pastels and calming blues.

"Does this sound crazy?" Choy leaned forward into his chair at the Music Center of Hawaii, where he spends his weekdays, violin cases and stacks of sheet music beside him.

Sure it sounds crazy. But it does explain the title of his new CD, Colors of the Heart. The CD is his first solo venture, and features eight of Choy's originals, as well as jazz interpretations of the popular "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and "Ei Nei," accompanied by singer Josh Kahula.

"I called the CD Colors of the Heart because music to me is an extension of emotion," he said. "I don't view myself as an entertainer. I make music to release what I'm feeling."

The CD, four years in the making, features the kind of smooth jazz tracks you might find in some smoky room soap opera scene. Choy's sax whines and grinds over keyboards and soft percussion, and in some cases, a heavily synthesized metal guitar.

His pieces range from the slow and sweet to the agitated and upbeat. One of his compositions, "Desperate Heart," is a hauntingly somber song he wrote after spending hours in the hospital with a family friend who hit hard times. "I went right home and composed the piece," said Choy. "The melody was there in my head, and I didn't take too much departure from that. I didn't want to lose the emotion."

As for Choy's technique, he said he learned by listening to influences such as David Sanborn, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. "When I started playing music, my attitude was, ‘if it ain't straight jazz, don't bother me with it.'" But in his early twenties, his tastes started to shift. "I grew to appreciate all that pop and funk stuff, and discovered that, hey, Earth Wind & Fire ain't too bad."

Today, Choy believes most people characterize him as a pop rock jazz player. "For this CD, I wanted to solidify the spectrum of what encompasses my sax playing," he said. "I've moved influences from straight jazz to rock to even heavy metal."

Choy grew up in Oahu and began his career as a working musician at 16. In 1985, slack key icon Peter Moon asked Choy to play with him.

"Peter was very accommodating as far as letting me do what I wanted in the studio," said Choy. "It was a great opportunity to learn the importance of communicating with people—different musicians in different settings. I also had a chance to hone my skills in arranging and music composition."

He took his skills to the stage, playing everywhere from hotel conventions to holes-in-the-wall. He recalled his musical heyday in the early '90s.

"I was in a band called Paradox out of Honolulu," he said. "We played what we wanted, as loud as we wanted, and the place was always cranking. I may have played with better musicians under much better conditions since then, but it was never the same vibe."

Choy's career has taken him to studios on the West Coast, concert venues in Japan and touring the country with artists such as the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, Patti Austin and James Ingram.

Today, he still plays gigs in Honolulu and holds music clinics at the high school and college level. He is already working on his second CD, and hopes to produce a new album every December.

"I would rather be in a recording studio than performing live. I think it is a mistake for musicians to rely on an audience to validate what they've done," Choy said. "If I can feel what I've played is satisfactory, it makes me feel good—to know that I conveyed the emotion I want to convey."

MauiTime Weekly Online Volume 7 #35 February 26, 2004

For information on David Choy and his new CD, visit www.davidchoy.net. MTW

Copyright © 2004

Reprint of Page 22, 41, SOUNDSGOOD! June 1994

(Below) A Polished, Accomplished Presentation of Choice Jazz Music Phil Clore

David Choy, UH Music Students Complete Their Assignment

UH-MANOA - Weeks ago a very small article, rather, I should say announcement, appeared in the newspaper mentioning that gifted saxist David Choy was the guest performer with the University of Hawaii Jazz Ensemble.

I have to say that it never ceases to amaze me what wonderfully accomplished musicians we have here, in the Hawaiian Islands. Yet, for their musical prowess, they are poorly publicized.

A classic example, with a question in point: did you know that our University has a dynamite jazz ensemble?

A friend and I sampled the tasty wares of the 27-piece band in mid-April at the UH Music Department Courtyard. To my surprise, my musical senses experienced a polished, accomplished presentation of some very choice selections.

They opened with Without A Song, arranged by Rick Stitzel, and moved on the Glidin' In Stride, and wrapped Count Basie's Shiny Stockings around their audience like the fog that rolls into San Francisco Bay. Even the Count would have given his famous finger point on this number!

Woody Herman's Early Autumn was next in line, followed by Sweet Georgia Brown and the ensemble ended their set with arranger Dave Barduhn's Milestones.

As each number rounded by, my mind kept reflecting that these earnest students were just that - students! But they play so well! I suppose the dedication of their music director, Patrick Hennessey, has much to do with it.

Patrick, an eleven year veteran of the UH Music Department is extremely proud of his band and exclaimed to me during a personal interview that his greatest joy "is to hear his group perform their final product."

As he said, "I know what they sounded like the first day of rehearsal!"

Another desire of Hennessey's is for the public to have access to the UH jazz concerts. (Maybe former UH Music Director Abe Weinstein will consider inviting the UH Jazz Ensemble to perform during the Hawaii International Jazz Festival, earning this modest group of musicians some recognition.)

Hennessey explained how David Choy came to play with the Jazz Ensemble that evening. Simple: he accepted the invitation! The UH jazz combo was comprised of drummer Nathan Moy, Greg Chung on Sax, trombonist Nathan Tanouye (see also the Maui Jazz Fest report), Daryl Miyasato on bass, Gilbert Batangan on guitar and percussionist August Lopaka Colon. These guys whipped up some wonderful servings of contemporary jazz, including a heavy number from the Yellow Jackets album Run For Your Life.

Naturally, the best was saved for last. David Choy and the UH Jazz Ensemble rounded out the show with selections like Even More Blues by Matt Cattingub, Bob Mintzer's A Long Time Ago, Have I Got The Blues For You by Neil Finn and Roger Meyers' Hideaway.

Lest I forget, neatly tucked away in the trumpet section was invited guest John Chudoba, from Paul Anka's band. He was a nice addition to the brass section, fitting right in since John is as young as some of the students.

(Left) David Choy, having grown up in a family where both his father and uncle played instruments, and having heard jazz practiced and played at home, has justifiably been influenced to play jazz.

Studying sax on his own, then young David sought his Goliath along with his trumpet-playing brother, forming a band called Wave. Their music was bebop and funk at the old Victoria Station. David gained a wealth of experience playing with other professional musicians and observing their style.

Some of his journeyman work came through show productions, feeding his insatiable appetite for perfection.

His advice to the young melody makers of today is: listen to the recorded pros according to your instrument of interest, and compare yourself to that individual; you'll be able to gauge your progress.

David's positive manner, dedication to his profession and his determination to influence the up and coming musicians has earned him the sobriquet True Gentleman of Jazz.

David Choy, local saxophonist extraordinaire and nephew of renown Reedmaster Gabe Baltazar, joined the UH Jazz Ensemble as their special guest for an outstanding April concert.

Chris Mann's Review of Aaron Aranita's CD "One Day"

August 14th 2002

…Aaron Aranita and Eastbound’s One Day on Sugartown Records. Hawaiian composer and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Aranita has assembled fourteen original compositions. The CD has a good mix of vocal and instrumental tracks and I prefer the tracks where Aranita’s soprano sax piano and gorgeous flute get a chance to shine.

My favourite vocal though is the smoky I’ll Say Goodbye featuring Harve Thompson. The acoustic piano/bass/drums backing is classy and Aranita’s sax solo is very soulful. It’s timeless stuff.

Among the instrumentals, the bluesy Urbanity stands out, as does the tribute to Brazilian guitarist Toninho Horta, simply entitled Toninho. That flute and Randall Yamamoto’s funky bass could make you think of Dave Valentin’s tropical and jazzy outings.

Rejoicing is a 100-miles-per hour drums and bass workout. Rogerio Araujo is the man with the sticks and he’s a monster! Kaila Novicki provides a vocal backing reminiscent of Flora Purim.

The uplifting Elima is the album’s best showcase for the high-voltage sound of guitarist Robert Shinoda. His sound is full on – any Yoshiaki Masuo fans out there?

Original songwriter, tasteful pianist and adventurous saxophonist – Aaron Aranita is all of these things. I’ll publicly apologise to him for having taken so long to write about his CD – with a bit of luck, the next one will follow soon…

Aaron Aranita's Eastbound Review

Eastbound by Aaron Aranita – reviewed by Chris Mann

Elsewhere on this site you can read a biography of Hawaiian composer and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Aranita. You can also read my review of Aaron’s second album “One Day”.

We’re doing something a little unusual here and revisiting his first album, which was released in 1998. It came out on the MGC label and was never distributed nationally or, indeed, reviewed outside Hawaii until now.

Hide and Seek is a lovely upbeat opener. It has a real Dotsero-type sound (which is great for me as I love Dotsero). It has a strong melody and is catchy. I particularly enjoyed Aranita’s electric piano solo. Is it You showcases his bright tenor sax sound, which works well with the ‘80’s-style female backing vocals and brassy keyboard sounds.

Natalie is a nice smoky ballad where Aranita’s lovely tenor reminds me of Ronnie Laws. In my notes I wrote “grand and beautiful” – and a week after writing that, I still feel the same. There’s a very breezy feel on Sugartown. Soprano sax dances over Ricardo Pasillas lively percussion, and Peter Horvath’s Chick Corea-style keyboard solo is gorgeous. There is so much to enjoy in this classy tune.

The very romantic One Moment is the first of two vocal tracks on the CD and though the vocal is cleanly recorded, I find the sax sounds on this song more appealing. I’ll make the comparison again with my beloved Ronnie Laws on Far Eastern Standard Time. It has a lovely, lazy 5/4 beat and great chord changes. Superb!

Aranita’s award-winning Gregoria launches with Terry Miller’s lovely fretless bass and Don Pendergrass’ piano before settling into a bluesy ballad with tenor horn to die for – great phrasing, enough reverb and just a classic sound! The title track is a vibrant and upbeat, latin-tinged tune. If you couldn’t hear the similarity with Ronnie Laws’ sound before, just check the soprano sax on this! Think “Every Generation”.

There’s Rippingtons-style intro on the exotic Ka’ohe (Bamboo). I enjoyed Terry’s bass solo on here and the exquisite doubled horn lines throughout. My favourite song. Follow Me is the second vocal and again I’m more drawn to the string synth sounds and heavenly soprano sax than to the vocal itself.

This CD was a real surprise; it’s from a player little known outside his native Hawaii and released on a small label without a major distribution deal. The standard of composition, musicianship and production is very high. I consistently enjoy Aranita’s sax sound and look forward to his next release which will be available later in 2004 and which I hope to review. Aaron’s own website is the one to watch for news. “Eastbound” has been available recently online. If you have problems accessing either of these sites, please let me know and I will contact Aaron to get details of where you can get more information and buy his music.

MGC Records – MGC1019 – Produced by Kool Kat Productions, Inc.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Don't Stop the Feeling":Wayne Harada's Take

Sunday, July 10, 2005


By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

"DON'T STOP THE FEELING" by Aaron Aranita; Sugartown Records

Genre: Jazz.

Distinguishing notes: This retrospective recording, from 1987 to the present, features original music by Aaron Aranita and is largely derived from his "Eastbound" album, as well as other unreleased tracks, plus new titles featuring guest trumpeter Valery Ponomarev. The fare is a roller-coaster ride through all avenues of jazz, with telling titles like "Kekaha" and "Ellingtonian," with the Berklee School of Music wizard waxing hot and eloquent on both alto and soprano saxophone. "Sugartown," named for his own studio where he records other artists (besides himself), is one of his signatures aired nationally on "Late Night With David Letterman."

The outlook: Yet another opportunity to get acquainted-or reacquainted-with the allure which is Aranita.

Our take: Smooth and sultry jazz, this.

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Aaron Aranita's New CD Now Available on CD Baby

Buy the CD
AARON ARANITA: Don't Stop the Feeling
click to order

Aaron's third CD release is finally available at CDBaby. Click on the link and you can preview MP3 files of all fourteen songs. It's an excellent CD and rates two thumbs up. Cool CD, real cool!!!

Cool Article on Michelle Wie by Ferd Lewis

Ok, ok, this is not about jazz, but this is real cool and because Michelle Wie's from Hawaii it's tropical. Just like "Meatloaf" the singer once sang, "two out of three ain't bad", so I'm not feeling bad about including something about Hawaii's fifteen year phenom on this blogger. My nephew who's also fifteen and a good golfer and his parents know Michelle and family from playing in amateur tournaments from the time they were just starting. My nephew who is really good is developing kind of in the normal way whereas Michelle has become "Michelle" who everybody and his nieces cousin's brother's uncle knows on a first name basis. Michelle, you go girl, just do it!!!!! So, that being said I've included a column written by Honolulu Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis on the topic that's the buzz all over this planet.
Posted on: Thursday, July 7, 2005

She's got a million reasons

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

So, what is Michelle Wie doing in Silvis, Ill., anyway?

While her soon-to-be 11th-grade classmates are at the beach or the mall today, Wie is scheduled to tee off as the only female at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic.

Be assured she is not there hoping to win a shiny new tractor.

As an amateur she wouldn't be allowed to keep it — or any prize money she might earn — even if she did update history as the first woman to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945.

But make no mistake, this is about bucks, harvester loads of them, even if she likely won't see any for a year or more.

Her appearance in the Quad Cities area of Illinois-Iowa, along a bend of the Mississippi River, is an investment in the not-so-distant future, an opportunity to raise her profile, burnish her brand and get positioned for the mega bucks endorsement deals that will surely come the moment she does turn pro if she carves a PGA niche.

While irrepressible Morgan Pressel, a 17-year-old rival, is in Toledo, Ohio, for an LPGA event, the adventurous Wie is not only taking aim at bigger game on the men's tour but heftier future rewards, too.

Sure, there is the extreme long-shot potential of a berth in the Masters or the British Open, the first if she won the Deere Classic and the latter only slightly less distant should she be the highest not-exempted finisher in the event. And, yes, there is the challenge of competing against the best golfers on the planet. Well, the ones that haven't already packed up their sticks and crossed the pond to prepare for the British Open.

This, though, is about a bigger picture, a heretofore all but unimagined and unattempted one. Team Wie and those upon whose counsel (International Management Group?) they rely have connected the dots on the future and envisioned a payday beyond what the traditional outlet for women golfers, the LPGA, can provide.

Annika Sorenstam, the best female golfer of her generation, sets the earnings standard in the LPGA. And while it is far from insignificant, it is not what someone who has the barrier-busting ability to step across both tours, ages and genders could command.

To watch the industry representatives trailing Wie at tournaments, not to mention the IMG guy in a cart, is to imagine the cash register already ringing.

Mark Hensby, defending champion of the Deere Classic, suggests, as USA Today reported, Wie "should be playing girls her age." Others among us believe she should make her mark on the LPGA Tour first.

So, why play the PGA this week and as the exemptions permit? Because, the moment she shows she's up to the task, that's where the real money begins for Wie. Not this week, but maybe soon.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.

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