The Honolulu-based band Kapala likes to refer to their music as Hawaiian with a groove. While paying homage to traditional Hawaiian music they sometimes mix it up with flavors of country, pop, blues and reggae.
A talented ensemble of innovative, seasoned musicians their adventurous approach calls to mind some of Hawaii's legendary groups like Sunday Manoa and the Peter Moon Band.
"We bring in all kinds of musical influences," explains Zanuck Kapala Lindsey. "We believe that Hawaiian music doesn't necessarily need to be limited to very simple, harmonic, standard changes. And we also love very simply-stated Hawaiian music, because that's our traditional roots. Others were innovative and it's something we like to do. Peter Moon was great, so were the Brothers Cazimero and Sunday Manoa, and before that Richard Kauhi. It inspires us to let the music breathe a little more and expand. I'm not sure why there are not more groups who like to be a little adventurous with Hawaiian music."
Kapala’s latest album, “Legacy,” delivers an impressive collection of all-original songs that seem destined for Na Hoku Hanohano recognition next year.
Photo courtesy Maui Arts & Cultural Center
With the release of his wonderful CD, “Ahupua‘a,” Anthony Natividad affirmed his stature as the master of the ‘ohe hano ihu, or Hawaiian nose flute.
Besides Lindsey, this exceptional group features Lopaka Ho'opi'i, Richard Heirakuji, Lance Kalanikai Artis, Kimo Artis and Adj Larioza.
On their latest album, "Legacy," they deliver an impressive collection of all-original songs that seem destined for Na Hoku Hanohano recognition next year.
"We really enjoy writing and the focus of this record was to write better songs," Lindsey notes. "Everyone in the band participates in developing the songs."
Kapala will hold a release party for their new "Legacy" album tonight at the MACC. They've invited some friends to join them on stage including Napua Makua, HAPA's Ron Kuala'au, Willie K and Eric Gilliom.
Tastefully infusing a variety of styles into their compositions, the first song, "Raising Haloa," employs a breezy Afro-pop-flavored rhythm with a chiming guitar and accordion to pay homage to the significance of taro.
Extolling their love of the islands on "Come on Home," they recall the soulful reggae approach of Jamaican greats Third World. The jaunty "Kohala Roundup" spins its paniolo tale to a country/blues beat, while the funky blues of "Old School" celebrates simpler times. And they craft a number of gorgeous Hawaiian language songs including "Kahealani" and "He Makana No Oe."
"People are entertained by us and then maybe baffled at the same time because we have distinctively different CDs," says Lindsey. "On one of our CDs we have Hawaiian songs that sound like they could fit on a country music radio format. 'Legacy' is probably our most Hawaiian album; it's got more backyard roots. We're just trying to be artistic with the music. I've had this concept of playing Hawaiian music ever since I heard Richard Kauhi and those kinds of people I grew up with. And we're trying to continue writing classic Hawaiian music. We want to be part of the legacy of great artists. And that's why we wrote these songs that we hope have a timeless affect."
Before he joined Kapala, Lindsey performed with a number of our leading artists. His diverse resume includes playing with Don Ho, Cecilio & Kapono, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, HAPA, Genoa Keawe, Amy Hanai'ali'i Gilliom, the Hawaiian Style Band and Matt Catingub and the Honolulu Symphony. He was musical director for Na Leo for a few years, was a prime mover behind the hot Hawaiian swing band Hula Joe & the Hutjumpers, and still occasionally joins Kalapana.
"I still play with Kalapana, but I'm more focused on Kapala," he reports. "I used to leave for jobs in Japan and put Kapala on hold, so now I'm focused on staying here because I really believe in this band. I believe in the vision and the concept. We just did a tour in Northern California and got a great response. People complemented us on the hybrid, the crossover of the music. That's been our whole idea. Maybe it will inspire people to investigate Hawaiian music that is more traditional."
* Kapala presents a "Legacy" CD release concert at 7:30 tonight in the McCoy Studio Theater. Guests include Napua Makua, HAPA's Ron Kuala'au, Willie K and Eric Gilliom. Tickets are $22 (plus applicable fees). Call 242-7469 for info.
Anthony Natividad had a mission to revive interest in the 'ohe hano ihu, the Hawaiian nose flute. A long-time cast member of the award-winning theatrical production " 'Ulalena," he delighted in introducing visitors to the beguiling sound of this unique native instrument.
With his recent passing we have lost a master, Hawaii's leading exponent of this ancient bamboo instrument.
"Anthony was remarkably generous in sharing his love for the 'ohe hano ihu," explains Keola Beamer, who introduced the native flute to the modern world on his groundbreaking recording "Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style." "For years, you'd find him after the ' 'Ulalena' show on Maui, sharing his expertise with people from all over the world. Anthony had a wonderful, open approach to teaching. Without hesitation he'd communicate his understanding and answer questions regarding technique and construction. He never held anything back from students who were genuinely interested. Although he was known as an incredibly talented performer and recording artist, he was, even more that - a great teacher. He held his love and deep knowledge of the instrument with an open hand."
Anthony first encountered the Hawaiian nose flute as a fifth grade student in 1975, attending a leadership camp on Oahu. "There was a Hawaiian man there named Uncle John who showed us the nose flute in a traditional Hawaii way," he recalled in a Maui Scene interview a few years ago. "I couldn't play it and I tried for two years. In 1992 my wife was in Mexico and she came back with a clay whistle and it had such a magical sound it got me back into the flute. Then I met a South American medicine man and he played the nose flute, and that got me back into the nose flute."
Anthony's talent brought him to the attention of Keola Beamer, who was hiring musicians to play for " 'Ulalena." "Keola and Aunty Nona Beamer were advisors to " 'Ululena' and I've always known Keola to be the nose flute guy," Natividad said. "Keola was the only nose flute player that I heard that really used it for melodic content."
With the release of his wonderful CD, "Ahupua'a," Anthony affirmed his stature as the master of the 'ohe hano ihu.
"Anthony is Hawaii's premier nose flute player," Keola reported in the same interview. "He's really bringing the ohe into the 21st century."
An innovative musician and craftsman (he made all his flutes), Anthony took the Hawaiian nose flute into realms unheard of before. Playing a variety of flutes on his CD, sometimes accompanied by sounds of nature, Anthony transported listeners on a soul-soothing journey. The ethereal, serene sound of his playing induced calm and a welcome relief from daily stresses.
He said he hoped his music would, "touch people's lives in a positive way. I assume for every individual it will do what needs to be done at the time. The music is designed for whatever you need."
Some folks were probably surprised to discover they were hearing a Hawaiian nose flute because Anthony evolved his own unique style that sounded akin to Native American flute playing. "The way I play is different from everybody else," he noted. "I didn't grow up as traditional nose flute player. There are no teachers for it and a lot of the influence on my style is Native American or South American."
The hauntingly beautiful sound of the 'ohe hano ihu was used by early Hawaiians to accompany chants, communicate messages across valleys, and in mele ho'oipoipo, serenades of courtship and lovemaking.
In the old days, when a man loved a woman and wished for her to become his mate, he would go into the forest, select a piece of bamboo, fashion a flute and compose a song for her. When the woman heard the song she would know if he was the right man for her.
"A lot that is written says it's an instrument of seduction," Anthony explained. "The deeper reason behind that is it's an instrument of sincerity. Breathing through your nose is very pure. You can't say anything harsh from the nose. If you play the nose flute you can't lie. The sound is very profound, it touches you deeply."
Besides his own recording, Anthony's music was featured in the PBS TV special "Over Hawaii," and in the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning movie "The Descendants."
"I'd love to see the nose flute as popular as it was before the missionaries came," Anthony concluded the interview. "I don't want it to fade away to something you just see in a museum."
* A celebration of Anthony's life will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina. Scattering of ashes and reception is set for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Lahaina Jodo Mission. The family welcomes loose flowers for scattering and no lei.