Recently returned from a successful tour of China, Jeff Peterson has just released a delightful new CD, "Maui on My Mind," that cements his status as one of our leading, innovative exponents of Hawaiian slack key guitar.
An exceptionally talented guitarist, fluent in a variety of styles from jazz and classical to slack key, Jeff is a multi-Na Hoku Award winner, honored both this year and in 2008 for Instrumental Album of the Year.
Born and raised on Maui amidst Upcountry's paniolo culture, his elegant instrumental compositions blend the graceful artistry of his classical music training with a traditional foundation.
Jeff Peterson, shown here during his recent tour of Shangri-La Hotels in China, will perform free from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Tedeschi Vineyard’s Ulupalakua Sparkles Series.
A primarily original work, "Maui on My Mind" pays homage to our island's natural treasures and some of the elders who mentored him like the late Eddie Wilson.
"Many of the songs reflect Upcountry," Jeff explains. "A lot of the music was composed on a new guitar that was built for me, and as soon as I received it, I started writing all this music. The first piece was 'Na Kupuna O Haleakala,' and I was thinking about growing up in Olinda, and my dad and his friends would play music, and I was reflecting on how as a little kid I wanted to own my own guitar.
"One of the cowboys, Eddie Wilson, was one of my first teachers. We spent a lot of time camping together, and he showed me a few chords. When I heard he had passed way I adapted the traditional song 'Wahine Holo Lio,' and wrote 'Paniolo Soul' for him. A lot of the pieces were written about different people or places or experiences I've had on Maui over the years."
There are charming songs inspired by the misty rain "Lilinoe" that brushes Olinda, tributes to "Pu'u Kukui," "Keokea, "Olinda Beauty" and the stunning vista atop Haleakala with "Aurora." He also ventures into Spanish-flavored territory with "The Aloha Tango."
"I was thinking of Raymond Kane," says Jeff. "He would play a Spanish-style piece with a slack key tuning, so that's dedicated to him. It switches back and forth between an Argentinean and Hawaiian sound."
Among the handful of covers he includes, Jeff adapts Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and Glen Miller's classic "In The Mood," demonstrating his fluency with swing jazz.
"My grandfather was a huge jazz fan," he explains. "And I thought I had to put something on the album for him because he had a huge influence on me growing up and my musical tastes."
In October, Jeff organized a mini China tour, performing at various Shangri-La Hotels, exposing audiences in Shanghai, Beijing and Fuzhou to Hawaiian music and dance, joined by Keola and Moanalani Beamer, Raiatea Helm, Chino Montero, Steve Jones and hula dancer Capella Williams.
"We felt like pioneers playing for audiences who had no idea what Hawaiian music is at all," he reports. "It was pretty amazing, and we were really well received. My main goal was to present something that was authentic, instead of a glitzy Hollywood-meets-Waikiki production. They want to do more 'Hawaiian Nights' in the future."
Most recently Jeff teamed with Jake Shimabukuro at the eighth annual Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Institute in Waimea. "We worked on some music together," notes Jeff. "The highlight of the whole weekend was playing the Beatles 'In My Life,' with him. It was a very magical moment. We approached it almost like a classical piece."
Jake Shimabukuro's latest CD of Beatles' covers so impressed entertainer Bette Midler,she invited the ukulele virtuoso to join her in the U.K. performing "In My Life" at a special concert on Monday before the queen of England.
Presented inthe seaside resort of Blackpool, England, the Royal Variety Performance will also feature Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Buble, teen starMiley Cyrus and pop star Lady Gaga.
"I can't believe it, I'm already nervous about the whole thing," Jake reports. "We had a rehearsal last week in California. She and Jimmy Buffett are really good friends and I play with Jimmy a lot, so that opened up the door."
In 2007, Jake released the EP "My Life," which included the Beatles' cover, as well as Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." In Japan this year he released "Across the Universe," an impressive collection of Beatles' covers.
"It's like a dream," he continues. "I'm going to have to buy a suit and maybe cut my hair. I've never played a concert wearing a suit."
Closing a five-island tour on Maui, John Cruz returns to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater for an intimate show at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
He's been touring with a small band, including Frank Carillo on bass, and a few different surprise guests on each island.
In January he will head back on a Mainland tour, and will then travel on to Canada, Japan and Australia.
One of our most gifted songwriters and performers, Cruz has won Contemporary Album of the Year Hoku Awards for his "Acoustic Soul" and "One of These Days" albums. And he shared in a Grammy win for his composition "Jo Bo's Night," featured on the compilation CD "Slack Key Guitar Volume 2." He is currently writing new songs for a forthcoming project.
Tickets are $32 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469, or www.mauiarts.org.
Ebb & Flow Arts will present a free concert with renowned Bay Area pianist Jerry Kuderna at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Makawao Union Church. The recital will focus on works by 20th-century American composers. The program features Aaron Copland's "Variations," Robert Helps' "Three Homages" (Faure/Rachmaninoff/Ravel), Roger Sessions' "Adagio" and "Five Pieces," and Elliott Carter's "Night Fantasies," plus Frederic Chopin's "Polonaise-Fantasy." A pre-concert discussion at 6:30 p.m. will be moderated by Robert Pollock.
"We're very excited to have this rare pianist who actually studied the pieces he's playing with the composers themselves," says Pollock. "The focus is partly on the 101st birthday of Elliott Carter, who is still active and writing, and we'll feature a large work of his."
As a student at Juilliard, Kuderna studied with Carter and prepared a performance of his "Piano Sonata." At The New England Conservatory,working withRobert Helps, he deepened his relationship with the piano works ofRoger Sessions.As a solo recitalist and as a founding member of the Maybeck Trio,Kuderna has long been active in the standard as well as newer repertoire.He has appeared frequently as soloist with the Berkeley Symphony performing works by Brewbaker and Ustvolskaya, and Carter's monumental Piano Concerto (1964-65).
"Kuderna contributed an astounding performance of Elliott Carter's 'Piano Sonata,' " praised a San Francisco Chronicle review. "His remarkable ability to control the arch of the piece made the performance exceptional."
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Kuderna will offer a free master class at the Maui Music Conservatory at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Student auditors must be accompanied by an adult or old enough to be on their own.
Pat Simmons will serenade folks with some Doobie Brothers favorites at Haleakala Waldorf School's Holiday Faire on Saturday. Performing at noon he will play with his son, Pat Simmons Jr., and team with Waldorf student Lily Meola, who will sing a Norah Jones tune.
Simmons has been busy touring, and recording a new album with legendary producer Ted Templeman. "I will play a new song from the new Doobie Brothers' album," Pat says. "We're mixing the tracks now. It will be out some time next year."
* Haleakala Waldorf School's Holiday Faire runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and includes live entertainment, hula, local craft vendors, wreath making, children's games and puppetry. Children wearing an elf costume will receive a free gift. Admission is free from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and then $3 for adults, and children 12 and younger still enter free.