When Peter Frampton won a Grammy Award in 2007 for his brilliant instrumental album "Fingerprints," he finally felt liberated from the pop icon image that had dogged him since attaining megapopularity with the electrifying "Frampton Comes Alive!," one of the top selling live records of all time.
From a teen star as the front man for the '60s English pop band The Herd, Frampton had graduated to forming one of the first supergroups, Humble Pie, with Small Faces' vocalist Steve Marriott, and then headed out on his own to release a phenomenally successful double album, which remained on the charts for 97 weeks.
"I was liberated from being the pop star back to the musician," Frampton explains about the significance of his Grammy win. "The onus had been on the looks and pop star image. My career has been a very large circle. I started in music because I played the guitar very well when I was young. I never planned on singing until the managers of The Herd said, you look good, you'll sing. That was the beginning of a difficulty in my career. If you look too good your talent as a musician can be put on the back burner. All the attention was on my looks. Even with 'Frampton Comes Alive!,' which was mega, it put me back to almost being in The Herd as far as the general public's view. 'Fingerprints' completed the circle back to being a musician for me."
DENNIS O’REGAN photo
Few guitarists could master so effectively the range of musical styles displayed on "Fingerprints." Fans who recall his arena-friendly ballads like "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Show Me The Way," may be astonished to find him delivering a fiery rendering of Sound Garden's "Black Hole Sun" with Pearl Jam's lead guitarist and drummer, a monumental rocker that sounds like a lost Cream track (featuring the Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts), some funky fusion ("Boot It Up" with saxophonist Courtney Pine), smoking blues ("Blooze" with Allman Brothers' guitarist Warren Haynes), and even a jaunty acoustic tribute to Django Reinhardt (with gypsy jazz virtuoso John Jorgenson).
As one reviewer noted, it's basically Frampton's "Blow by Blow" - recalling Jeff Beck's phenomenal first instrumental album.
"I won a Grammy and it was mind-blowing," he reports. "I didn't expect it. Larry Carlton was also nominated, and I thought he'd get it."
Peter Frampton will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. Tickets are $45, $55, $65 and $85. For more information call 242-7469.
With many great musicians assisting the project, it was quite a coup to have the Rolling Stones' founding bassist and legendary drummer back him on the rocking track "Cornerstones." But then Wyman is a longtime friend, who once managed one of Frampton's teen bands.
"Bill was my first producer when I was in a band when I was 14 that contained the Stones' first drummer, Tony Chapman," Frampton explains. "He introduced Bill to the Stones. I've known Bill since 1964, and he sort of became my elder brother. And I've known Charley all this time as well, so I reunited the original Rolling Stones' rhythm section."
Attending school in South London, Frampton's schoolmates included David Bowie and Pete Sears (who later played with Rod Stewart and Jefferson Starship). "My dad was David's art teacher, and at lunchtime we'd grab guitars and teach each other songs," he recalls.
Many years later Bowie invited Frampton to join his band playing lead guitar on the Glass Spider world tour.
"He called me up and said he loved what I was doing guitar-wise. I recorded the 'Never Let Me Down' album with him, and then he asked me to tour with him. That was the beginning of the turnaround for me. David gave me a wonderful gift."
Travelling the world together in 1987, Frampton felt invigorated. "He reintroduced me as a guitar player after the 'Frampton Comes Alive!' smear campaign as a pop star," he adds, laughing. "I'm proud of 'Frampton Comes Alive!,' but it definitely had its downside."
Other luminaries who have admired Frampton's guitar skills include Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Harrison invited him to play guitar on the legendary "All Things Must Pass." The Beatles' drummer played on Frampton's first solo album and he reciprocated by contributing to Ringo's "Rotogravure" album," and then in 1997 he toured with Ringo's All Stars, along with Jack Bruce of Cream fame and Procul Harum's Gary Brooker.
"I've known Ringo since 1971 because of George," he explains. "To play with him and Jack Bruce was unbelievable. One night in Denver, (Cream drummer) Ginger (Baker) shows up and he came on and we played 'White Room.' Ginger and Jack were smiling at each other, and I wonder how many times that happened in Cream. It was fantastic."
Making his Maui debut on Wednesday at the MACC, Frampton promises a lengthy show encompassing his stellar career.
"It's everything," he says. "We go back to Humble Pie and journey up to my latest album 'Thank You Mr. Churchill.' Once we get going we turn into the Allman Brothers. We're really looking forward to playing some long shows."
For more than three decades, the L.A.-based Asian-American group Hiroshima has uniquely blended music of the East and West creating a novel synthesis that has captivated fans around the globe.
Last year they celebrated their 30th anniversary by releasing "Legacy," a remarkable retrospective work that features new interpretations of some of their classic songs.
Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental album, "Legacy" finds this innovative band in peak form often stretching out on tracks like "East," recalling jazz fusion powerhouse Weather Report, and transforming their popular "Hawaiian Electric" theme with a dynamic Latin groove.
"We were stunned to get the Grammy nomination for it because no one does what we do," says Dan Kuramoto, Hiroshima's leader and producer. "We took songs from our first 10 years and instead of re-releasing them, we re-recorded them live. We like to think of ourselves as a more mature, together family because the band is an ohana. Any recording session, we eat and talk story and that gives us the spirit of community. Our career has always been against all odds."
Featuring Dan Kuramoto on keyboards, sax and shakuhachi, June Kuramoto on koto, bassist Dean Cortez, former Kalapana keyboardist Kimo Cornwall, Danny Yamamoto on taiko and drums, and Shoji Kameda on taiko, this multicultural band recorded their first self-titled album in 1979.
Combining the traditional sound of Japanese koto, taiko and shakuhachi with electric guitars and synthesizers, they chose their name to create a more positive feeling to a word that had become almost synonymous with nuclear destruction, and they also wanted to present Japanese culture in a positive light in America.
"In Japan they resent us," he reveals. "They go, why do you have to call the band Hiroshima, that's a dark period in Japan's history. But no, we're the post-World War II generation, and we need to keep the spirit of peace alive. And there's little bit of resentment towards June (Kuramoto), because the world's greatest koto player lives in the United States."
June Kuromoto's exquisite koto playing has distinguished the group's music from their earliest days. Born just outside of Tokyo, Kuramoto arrived in the U.S. as a child and soon devoted much of her life to mastering the ancient Japanese instrument. Her gift and ability has led her to perform with some of the greatest musicians in the classical world from Japanese masters to Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar.
Playing a refined blend of R&B, jazz and pop with a Japanese flavor, Hiroshima broke into the American mainstream with their 1987 album "Go," which topped Billboard's jazz chart for more than two months.
No other American band has achieved success featuring the koto as a lead instrument. Many musicians now incorporate influences from a variety of cultures into their recordings, a form of multicultural fusion honed by Hiroshima for 30 years.
"They were one of the first bands to incorporate the sounds of Asia with jazz and make it palatable not only for the American listener but for fans all over the world," notes legendary producer/keyboardist George Duke on Hiroshima's website. "In many ways they were the precursor to what later was called smooth jazz."
"Our mission is to open people up to possibilities," says Kurumoto. "It's like in Hawaii the mix is so beautiful, yet it's not a compromise. We've had 30 years of pursuing that dream and we never get tired of it."
A primarily instrumental band, Hiroshima occasionally features vocalists on their albums. One of "Legacy's" highlights, the jazz-rock fusion "Dada," features the gorgeous voice of former Miss Oahu Yvette Nii, who will join the band on Maui.
"I think people will be blown away by her," he says. "She's a local girl from Ewa Beach who went to Vegas, and she has a beautiful voice and great soul."
Hiroshima with saxophonist Michael Paulo will perform at 7 p.m. Friday in the Castle Theater. Tickets are $25, $40, and $55 for VIP with post-show meet-and-greet (plus applicable fees). For more details on the band, check their website at www.hiroshimamusic.com, which will soon include an interactive section where fans can hear new songs as they're being composed.
The MACC's popular "Solo Sessions" series features multi-Na Hoku Award-winning musician and Merrie Monarch-winning kumu hula Robert Cazimero performing on grand piano at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the McCoy Studio Theater.
At the forefront of a resurgence of Hawaiian music, language, dance and culture since the 1970s, as half of the Brothers Cazimero, Robert also excelled as a pianist from his teen years. Gifted with an ability to memorize complex classical pieces, Robert affectionately calls the piano "my best friend. People talk about safe havens, and for me it would be at the piano."
Making his solo debut at the MACC, he will share songs and stories about his halau, accompanied by longtime hula dancers Sky Perkins and Keola Makaiau.
"I have a very loose outline that I plan to tighten during the show," says Robert. "As always, the audience guides the performance."
Tickets are $25 and $45 for VIP with artist meet-and-greet.
Attention Maui Walmart shoppers, Willie K will serenade you with a free performance of some Christmas favorites at noon on Sunday.
In collaboration with Hawaiian Host chocolates, Willie has released a new seasonal sampler of candy and music, and has embarked on a promotional island tour.
"I'm on the Walmart tour," he says, laughing. "I can put it on my bio."
The four-track "Hawaiian Host Presents New Original Music from Willie K," features a jazzy swing version of "Jingle Bells," an original moving tribute "One for the Troops," an original rocker "Christmas Time Again," and a divine, operatic "Ave Maria."
Willie's Na Hoku Award-winning Christmas album "Willie Kalikimaka" was an instant favorite. Ten years later this remarkable entertainer is releasing another Christmas collection, "Willie Wonderland," available the last week of November.
He's especially excited about the new "Wonderland" project because it features a bunch of Maui musicians.
"It's really cool because (jazz vocalist) Kelly Covington and (keyboardist) Brian Cuomo, (drummer) Paul Marchetti and (bassist) Bob Harrison are on it," Willie enthuses. "Napua Greig and Alaka'i are also on it."
Kelly sings on the seasonal jazz favorite "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?," which was covered by Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. "The whole project is jazz orientated with a little gospel," says Willie. "The last one was locally island based and this one is jazz and blues and a little classical with 'Ave Maria.' I think it's going to appeal to a lot of people, because it's traditional songs done Wille K style."