East Meets West Festival

Jazz Maui’s eclectic concert series seduces with R&B, blues, jazz, Big Band, cultural dance and more

R&B vocalist Sammay Dizon (pictured) performs with the Mike Lewis & Friends Quartet during Maui Jazz’s East Meets West Festival concert series at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the King Kekaulike Performing Arts Center in Pukalani. Food will be offered for purchase on both nights. Ticket prices for festival performances are $15. To purchase tickets, visit jazzmaui.org. For more information, call 283-3576. EARL BUENAOBRA photo

Jazz Maui’s 2018 East Meets West Festival will kick off a series of concerts Friday at the new King Kekaulike Performing Arts Center with a “Best of Blue Note Tribute” featuring the Mike Lewis & Friends Quartet with award-winning jazz and R&B vocalist Ginai.

Lewis and Ginai are regular performers at the Blue Note Honolulu where they have presented a series of tribute concerts recognizing leading female singers including Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Natalie Cole and, most recently, Sade.

Performing with the swing bands Hot Club of Hulaville and Hula Joe & The Hut Jumpers, Ginai has sung on two Hoku Award-winning albums, and has opened concerts for Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, Bruce Hornsby and Diana Krall

A trumpet player and jazz band director at the University of Hawaii, Lewis has recorded and toured with artists such as Sammy Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Billy Joel and Natalie Cole.

The Oahu musicians will also perform select numbers with the King Kekaulike High School’s Na Ali’i Big Band and the Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s Scott Tennant will perform Tuesday at Makawao Union Church. JIRO SCHNEIDER photo

Friday’s concert also includes a series of cultural dance performances led by Bay Area-based guest choreographer/musician Sammay Dizon.

The artistic director of Urban X Indigenous, Dizon is part of a global movement towards reindigenization through the indigenous contemporary arts collective, I Moving Lab. She will perform solo and with local Hawaiian and contemporary dance troupes, including the University of Hawaii Maui College Dance Club and Dance International Foundation. The concert will also feature a performance by Zenshin Daiko.

Opening Friday’s pre-show concert at 4 p.m. will be the June Skies Combo and Tanama Colibri.

The Mike Lewis & Friends Quartet featuring Ginai will offer a second Blue Note tribute to the great women of song on Saturday. The Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra will also take the stage and the Na Ali’i Big Band will close the evening in a special performance joined by Lewis and Ginai. At a pre-show concert at 5 p.m., the June Skies Combo will be joined by saxophonist Joie Taylor.

For a more intimate music experience, Mary Anne Fitch and Nam Le Viet of Lahaina will host a home concert featuring the Lewis Quartet at 6 p.m. today with a performance by the June Skies Jazz Combo. East Meets West-themed pupu and wines are included for $100 per person.

Additional festival dates include a free performance by Gems of Jazz led by saxophonist Joie Taylor with Sal Godinez on keyboards, and Peter Delacroce on percussion, at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. 

On Wednesday, there will be a free Concert in the Park featuring the Chop Suey Jazz Orchestra and the Na Ali’i Big Band from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Lahaina Library Lawn.

Produced by the Arts Education for Children Group, the East Meets West Festival encourages cross-cultural dance and musical collaborations in a variety of traditional and original styles inspired by east and west.


Henry Kapono plans a big bash on Aug. 26 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului with a bunch of celebrated friends. They include Kalapana, Keola Beamer, Jerry Santos, John Cruz, Brother Noland, Na Leo Pilimehana, Robi Kahakalau, Kalani Pe’a, Paula Fuga, Alx Kawakami, Blayne Asing, Josh Tatofi, Kimie Miner, Landon McNamara, Mike Love and Starr Kalahiki.

* Tickets range from $40 to $150 and go on sale tomorrow. For tickets and information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.


Fleetwood’s on Front St. recently raised an estimated $15,000 at a benefit show for Willie K and his medical expenses with lung cancer. While Willie was not scheduled to perform, he joined in near the end on Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” and “Songbird.”

“He did an acoustic version of ‘Songbird’ with Gretchen [Rhodes] and Mick [Fleetwood] was on talking drum and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” reports Eric Gilliom. “He sounded amazing.”


Kumu hula Karl Veto Baker, Michael Lanakila Casupang and Halau I Ka Wekiu present “A Foundation of Love” concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at the MACC’s Castle Theater.

The Oahu halau will feature an evening filled with the love of artistry, creativity and with a genuine message of “Aloha Aku, Aloha Mai”“When love is given, love is received.”

Former students of kumu hula Robert Cazimero, Casupang and Baker perform as the Hoku Award winning duo KUmZ. Their albums include “On the Summit,” “Listen to Your Heart” and their latest, “He Ola.”

* Tickets are $10, $25 and $35 (plus applicable fees). For tickets and information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.


In other jazz news The Shops at Wailea will celebrates Fourth of July with “Jazz at The Shops” featuring singer Gina Martinelli and keyboardist Jerry Kovarsky. This free event begins at 5:30 p.m.


Classical guitar virtuoso Benjamin Verdery is back on Maui presenting his 19th annual master guitar class which will include four public concerts. The opening concert features Verdery, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s Scott Tennant, Oahu-based guitarists Jeff Peterson and Ian O’Sullivan, and Celtic music guitarist William Coulter Tuesday at Makawao Union Church.

“We will play as a quartet at the end,” says Verdery, head of the guitar department at Yale University. “We’re going to do a great arrangement of the Hawaiian

medley ‘Pololei Oiaio’/’Na Moku Ehatune’ originally by Keauhou, and I’m playing some of my tunes as well as some Bach, Villa Lobos and Fred Hand.”

Excited that Tennant will perform on Maui, Verdery says, “Scott is a guitar legend. He’s part of the Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and has won numerous international competitions. He published the most beloved guitar book called ‘Pumping Nylon.’ It’s every young guitar player’s bible. He’s a great virtuoso.”

Considered one of the world’s premiere classical guitarists, Tennant is a favorite guest artist with orchestras, music series and major guitar festivals around the world. He has made numerous recordings as a soloist and with members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. The quartet’s “LAGQ Latin” was nominated for a Grammy, and their album “Guitar Heroes” won a Grammy for best classical crossover recording of 2005.

Described as “one of the classical guitar world’s foremost personalities,” by Classical Guitar magazine, Verdery is a brilliant composer celebrated for crafting innovative, extended works for large guitar ensembles. He has recorded and toured with Andy Summers of The Police, and recorded with guitar legend Leo Kottke, the late flamenco master Paco Pena and classical guitar great John Williams.

A 2018 Hoku Award winner for the collaborative album “Across the Sea,” Peterson has contributed to two Grammy Award-winning recordings. His solo CD, “Maui on My Mind,” was recognized as the Slack Key Album of the Year and received a Grammy nomination in 2010. Another solo project, “O’ahu,” won the 2016 Hoku for Slack Key Album and Instrumental Song of the Year.

A classically-trained guitarist and composer, O’Sullivan has been a lecturer in classical guitar at UH Manoa since 2012. He is well-versed in Hawaiian slack key guitar and the ukulele, in addition to the Western classical repertoire. He most recently performed on Maui at the annual slack key festival at the MACC.

An acclaimed Celtic music guitarist, Coulter recordings with Verdery include “Celtic Sessions,” “Happy Here” and “Song for Our Ancestors.” He currently performs with a violinist as the duo Fire & Grace.

A special free recital for advanced students will be presented at 2 p.m. July 8 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kula. The concert will feature “Hommage a Chopin” by Alexandre Tansman, “Valses Poeticos” by Enrique Granados, “Three Spanish Pieces” (Tonadilla, Tango and Guajira) by Emilio Pujol, and “Variations sur un theme de Django Reinhardt” by Leo Brouwer.

A free student concert will be presented at 7 p.m. July 9 at the Lahaina Jodo Mission, and another at 7 p.m. July 11 at the Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena. The student concerts will include the world premiere of Verdery’s new work, “Hot Pickle,” for guitar ensemble and spoken word.

“We’re thrilled to come again,” says Verdery. “I have some incredible players in the class this year.”

Later in the year, Verdery, Peterson and O’Sullivan plan to record a guitar album together.

“We want to do a cross section of Hawaiian composers, maybe even include Bruno Mars.”

* Verery, Tennant, Peterson, O’Sullivan and Coulter perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Makawao Union Church. Donations for the Boys & Girls Club of Maui are gratefully accepted.