Saturday, November 26, 2005

Now this fits this blogsite to a tee.....


Bruce Hamada is a name from the past I remember. Although he has been a staple of jazz performers in Hawaii for at least a couple of decades, it wasn't long ago that Bruce was bandleader and bass player for the 70s cover band Livewire. Livewire was a blend of talented musicians including a horn section that included trumpet players Bob Woosley, Todd Hayashi and sax player Randall Hoo. Bob Woosley went on to play with Power Point and Randall Hoo joined Greenwood. Livewire was a pool of talent and you could hear them play selections from horn bands like Tower of Power. A great band, full of talent, it is no wonder that Bruce Hamada has established himself among Hawaii's jazz greats. Cool, tropical and jazz. Here's John Berger's review of Bruce Hamada's CD.


Island Mele
John Berger


Two For The Road"
Bruce Hamada Trio
(Don Don)
Time was when Bruce Hamada was best known as Loretta Ables' bass player at the Halekulani, but in recent years he's established himself as a vocalist as well, and a guy who is as comfortable in a recording studio as he is headlining Lewers Lounge with pianist Jim Howard. Hamada co-produced his latest project with island jazz maven Don Gordon and they've created one of the best jazz albums to come out of Hawaii in recent years. True, there isn't a lot of jazz recorded here. Even so, "Two For The Road" is better than some that have won Hoku Awards in the years past.

Hamada opens strong with a swinging acoustic arrangement of "Learnin' The Blues" that introduces the project perfectly. He sounds almost too cheerful as he sings about the wretchedness of heartbreak, but oddly enough that adds to the impact of the song. There's no question by the time its over that his partners, Tamir Hendelman (piano) and Jeff Hamilton (drums), are assets as well.

Hamada steps forward instrumentally with a solid acoustic solo on "Have You Met Miss Jones." He opens a lesser known tune, "The Bop Be Pops/FJR," with another beautifully realized extended solo on an original arrangement that gives the other guys plenty of space to solo as well.

Other highlights include Jim Howard taking over the piano on "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," Hamada's take on the album-closing title track, and the concise liner notes in which he shares the personal significance of each selection.


dondonrecords@gmail.com

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