Husband and wife duo Phil and Angela Benoit will feature songs from their latest recording, "Golden Sun," at a CD release party from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Caf O' Lei at The Dunes at Maui Lani.
The exceptionally talented couple has crafted another winning jazz album mixing fresh takes on standards with some charming originals. A number of songs express their love for Brazilian music from the original "Samba Feliz" to the fun wordplay of "O Pato (The Duck)," which has been recorded over the years by Joao Gilberto, Jon Hendricks and Stan Getz, and is one of the highlights of their live performances.
The combination of Angela's lovely, expressive voice with Phil's warm guitar tone enriches the material, while instrumental backing from some of our finest jazz players, including Marcus Johnson, Sal Godinez, and John Zangrando, adds to the album's appeal.
Phil & Angela Benoit: GOLDEN SUN
Wilburn Stranger Cole is one of the legends of “Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae,” part of the Maui Film Festival’s strong slate of music-themed movies, screening at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Celestial Cinema.
Among the standouts - Stevie Wonder's hit "Another Star" transformed into a regal ballad (embellished with a tasty organ by Mark Johnstone), and the breezy samba "Six P.M.," composed by Phil's Grammy-winning brother, David Benoit (who plays piano on it), with added lyrics by the duo and vocal harmonies by Kelly Covington and Fulton Tashombe.
"He released it on one of his records and we wrote words to it," Phil explains. "Knowing my brother, I knew 6 p.m. had something to do with having a martini so that's the twist in the lyrics. He had a Steinway grand in L.A. so I flew over and he put his parts over our rhythm tracks."
Performing together since 1997, the couple obviously loves interpreting jazz and pop standards, reaching back on the album as far as the early 1930s with "Lullaby of The Leaves," which features a novel fugue arrangement by Johnson.
"The old standards taught me," says Phil. "There were so many great melodies back then. We've made a commitment to playing this kind of music. Rhythm and blues and rock might be more popular, but we love this stuff and want to perpetuate it."
At Friday's show the Benoits will be backed by Marcus Johnson on bass, Pat Wellington on drums, their son on bass, Chris Dennis on percussion and John Zangrando on sax and flute. Admission is free.
Besides Friday and Saturday evenings at Caf O' Lei, they play at the Moana Caf on Wednesdays.
Following the ska boom and just before the blossoming of reggae, young Jamaican musicians created a musical style known as rocksteady. Slowing down ska's propulsive beat and often adopting more socially conscious lyrics, musicians like Alton Ellis, The Paragons and The Melodians ignited the Caribbean with rocksteady hits.
The new documentary "Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae," screening at 10 tonight at the Celestial Cinema, explores this short-lived phenomenon.
"Everybody has heard of reggae, but not too many people know it came from rocksteady," explains the film's producer Betty Palik, head of Muse Entertainment's Documentary Division. "And it was a very interesting time in Jamaican history, musically and socially. The film traces the political and social transformation during the '60s and the music reflected those changes. Getting independence from Great Britain in 1962, there was a lot of optimism, and a lot of the rocksteady songs were full of hope and love."
"Lovingly conceived and brilliantly executed, 'Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae' aims to achieve the same sort of museum piece-to-modernity transformation for Jamaican rocksteady that 'The Buena Vista Social Club' created for Cuban music of an earlier era," praised an Allaboutjazz review.
Featuring the music and stories of some of the legendary singers and musicians of the era, the film captures the artists uniting after 40 years to record an album of rocksteady hits at the legendary Tuff Gong Studios, and perform at an all-star reunion concert in Kingston, Jamaica.
Performers include Hopeton Lewis, Dawn Penn, Wilburn Stranger Cole, Marcia Griffiths ("The Tide is High" - a later hit for Blondie), Ken Boothe, Leroy Sibbles of the Heptones, toaster U-Roy ("Stop That Train") and Judy Mowatt, who, with Griffiths and Rita Marley, was part of Bob Marley's legendary backup singers the I-Threes.
"The singers at the time were like the newspapers of society," Palik continues. "There were rocksteady songs talking about freedom and equal rights and brothers shouldn't be fighting with each other. The political messages started with rocksteady, then it transformed into reggae. Many people say that rocksteady was the golden age of Jamaican music. Judy Mowatt in the film calls it the romantic era. It's a happy movie because the music is wonderful and the people are exceptional. The audience usually comes out very happy."
A companion CD has been released featuring eight surviving rocksteady artists revisiting some of their biggest hits. Marty Dread will provide a musical introduction before the screening, explaining the evolution of Jamaican music.
Before forming the greatest band in the world, a teenager in Liverpool named John Lennon soaked up early rock 'n' roll and skiffle, channeling his angst into the formative sound of the Beatles.
With a terrific cast including Aaron Johnson as Lennon, the amazing Kristin Scott Thomas as strict aunt Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as his free-spirited, estranged mom, Julia, the critically acclaimed "Nowhere Boy" (Friday, 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema), covers five years in John's early life, closing with his departure for Hamburg at the age of 19.
A must-see for any Beatles fan, "Nowhere Boy" was praised by the U.K. Daily Telegraph as, "a thoroughly engaging depiction of John Lennon's teenage years." And the U.K. News of the World concluded: "Everyone in this entire production does brilliantly."
The soundtrack focuses on the classic rock of the era that influenced the Beatles with tunes by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Eddie Cochran and Lonnie Donegan. The British electronica duo Goldfrapp provides the instrumental score.
"Nowhere Boy" was nominated for four British Academy Film Awards: Outstanding British Film, Best Supporting Actress (Duff and Scott Thomas) and Outstanding Debut by a British director (Sam Taylor-Wood).
According to an interview with the film's director, both Yoko and Sean loved it. And in an interesting development, the director and the film's young star are now engaged.
Mixing rock and miracles, "Sympathy for Delicious," screening Saturday, 8 p.m., Castle Theater, marks the very impressive feature-directing debut of actor Mark Ruffalo. With a soundtrack by Canadian indie rockers The Besnard Lakes, it follows the transformation of a paraplegic, Skid Row-living turntablist nicknamed Delicious D, who discovers he can heal the sick and the lame.
D's miraculous powers impress a local hardcore band, who after hiring him, turn their gigs into frenzied "healapalooza" revival shows.
As the lead singer, Orlando Bloom perfectly captures the narcissistic excesses of an English rocker, modeling the role on Oasis' warring Gallagher brothers; while the always fabulous Juliette Lewis plays their bassist.
Screenwriter Christopher Thornton, who plays D, based the story on his own life. Crippled in a motorcycle accident and left paralyzed in a wheelchair, Thornton sought out faith healers until he had to come to terms with his own humanity.
Ruffalo has described the film and the score as a "magic and agnostic rock 'n' roll revival." He said, "The Besnard Lakes bring a living, breathing and vibrant quality to the existing story that is rare to find in film scores."
"Sympathy for Delicious" won Sundance's U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize, and earned a standing ovation.
What a perfect way to celebrate Father's Day with some of our finest Hawaiian musician dads teaming with their sons at the "4 Fathers & 4 Sons" show at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
This unique evening begins with each duo - Dennis and David Kamakahi, George and Keoki Kahumoku, Kevin and Ikaika Brown and Richard and Kai Ho'opi'i - performing in their unique family style before teaming later on.
In a late development, due to an injury Keoki Kahumoku has been replaced on the bill by Garret Probst, George Kahumoku's nephew, changing the show's title to "4 Fathers, 3 Sons and a Nephew."
Tickets are $25 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
And then on Sunday the four families move to the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel to perform at a special Champagne Brunch. Cost is $42.95, $22.95 for keiki 5 and older; reservations are available by calling 667-0124 or visiting www.HawaiianSundayBrunch.com.