The Maui Arts & Cultural Center will spotlight some of the winners the 2012 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards with a special concert on Saturday under the moonlit Yokouchi Pavilion, featuring the combined talents of Robert Cazimero, Natalie Ai Kamauu, Waipuna, the Willie K Blues Band, Makana and Starr Kalahiki.
Multi-award-winning musician and kumu hula Robert Cazimero released his solo piano/vocal album "Hula" last year. Receiving 8 nominations including Male Vocalist, Hawaiian Album of the Year and Album of the Year, he won for Hawaiian Language Performance.
When he's not playing stand up bass with the Brothers, Robert Cazimero gravitates to the instrument he most treasures - the piano.
Starr Kalahiki first photo), Waipuna (second photo) and Robert Cazimero (third photo) are among the musicians performing Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Photos courtesy Maui Arts & Cultural Center
His wonderful CD captured his joy (and gorgeous vocals) interpreting some of his favorite music for hula, spanning songs by Helen Desha Beamer ("Keawaki") and Robert Alex Anderson ("Lovely Hula Hands"), to the traditional "Haole Hula" and the Caz original "Na'u Ho'okahi."
"In my life, I've been lucky enough to learn from the best; to dance on stage; to teach this remarkable art form and to be rewarded in both tangible and intangible ways for dedicating a big part of my life to hula," Robert wrote in the CD liner notes.
His hula life with Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua was captured in the documentary "Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula," which was screened on PBS.
* The Na Hoku Hou Award Winners Concert will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Yokouchi Pavilion & Courtyard. Tickets are $25 general admission seating, $45 reserved table seating, and a limited number of VIP packages are available (plus applicable fees). Call 242-SHOW (7469) or visit MauiArts.org.
Robert excelled as a pianist from his teen years. Able to memorize complex classical pieces, at one time he seemed destined for a career in the classical world. "My teacher had visions of grandeur for me as far as being a concert pianist, needless to say I had other plans," he notes.
Gifted playing both bass and piano, Robert feels a special affinity for the keyboard. "The piano is my best friend," he says. "People talk about safe havens and for me it would be at the piano."
In the last few years every time Natalie Ai Kamauu releases a solo album she has won the Na Hoku Award for Female Vocalist of the Year. First was " 'E" in 2006, then " 'I" in 2009, and this year she won for " 'A."
A former Miss Aloha Hula who sings in Hawaiian and English, she translates " 'A" as to sparkle, like a gem.
"We are each born with special gifts," she wrote in the CD liner notes. "Comparing them to rocks, when first discovered, they are rough, dirty and dull. But if we take the time to clean and buff, the rock is now a spectacular gem. Manu Boyd actually suggested 'A and I immediately fell for it. To sparklewho wouldn't love it?"
Natalie first made an impression as a teenager, singing alongside her father, Howard Ai, for Halau Hula Olana. Her debut CD " 'E" was recorded with her husband 'Iolani Kamauu on vocals and instrumentation. Gifted with a beautiful voice she also excels as a songwriter, and featured four original compositions on the album.
" 'A" continues to further her stature as one of Hawaii's most talented female artists. Songs on the album range from a jazzy "Hanalei Moon" ("It was the first song I sang," she writes. "I mean really found my voice and sang"), a lively "Fireman's Hula" and the lovely "Nohili E," sung as a tribute to her brothers, to a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Stay Gold" and the exquisite "E Pi'i Ka Nahele," which features a duet of voice and nose flute.
Next up for Natalie, an album recorded in Japan with a symphony orchestra.
She includes one of the recordings, Queen Lili'uokalani's "Sanoe," as a "bonus" song on " 'A."
In late February the Hawaiian duo Waipuna triumphed at the Hoku Awards winning Group of the Year, Island Music Album of the Year and Single of the Year for " 'Ainahau."
Comprising Kale Hannahs and Matthew Kawaiola Sproat, their winning mix of mix of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music earned them 9 nominations for their second album, "E Ho'i Mai."
A graduate of Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii, where he majored in Hawaiian Studies, Kale was a founding member of the award-winning group 'Ale'a. A member of the famous Sproat family from North Kohala, Matthew won the Kindy Sproat Falsetto Contest in 2003.
Among the most striking tracks on "E Ho'i Mai," they call on the chanting of kumu hula Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu on a medley paying tribute to Kamehameha the Great, deliver a gorgeous version of " 'Ainahau" with choral backing, and harmonize beautifully on the original song " 'O Koke'e," a homage to Kauai's magical, upcountry wonderland.
Having dazzled us for years with his extraordinary virtuosity and versatility, Willie K finally felt it was time to record some blues last year. The resulting "Warehouse Blues," won him a Hoku for Rock Album of the Year.
Not content to just tackle blues covers, Willie produced an album of all-original material that paid tribute to some of the musicians he admires from John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and Muddy Waters, to Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Carlos Santana.
"It was with the intention of paying homage to all those I've enjoyed listening to," Willie said. With solid backing from the core band of bassist Jerry Byers, drummer Kris Thomas, keyboardist Gilbert Emata and percussionists Mio Flores and Tam Sugayan, Willie unleashed his formidable guitar on some incendiary tunes.
Highlights included the roaring, Z.Z. Top-style grind of "Howling at the Moon," the searing Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac influenced "Heart Aching Blues," and his impassioned pitch for preserving our precious environment with "World Singing the Blues."
Starr Kalahiki won Jazz Album of the Year for with her debut album "Salt." A captivating entertainer she has sung in six operas with Hawaii Opera Theatre, performed in various theater productions, including Ulalena on Maui, fronted an alternative rock band, R&B group and funk band, and is now a jazz headliner. She also won this year's award for Most Promising Artist.
On "Salt" she collaborated with keyboardist Kit Ebersbach of Don Tiki, bassist Dean Taba and John Signor on ukulele. She describes her album as, light chamber jazz, equal parts piano, bass and vocal.
Makana was bestowed with the 2012 Ki Ho'alu Legacy Award at this year's Hoku Awards. Best know for his innovative slack key guitar playing he integrates elements of folk, rock, ethnic, classical, bluegrass, jazz and traditional Hawaiian to create his own unique style.
Makana's song "Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest" was featured in the Oscar-winning movie, "The Descendants," and his songs "Flood" and "Will I Ever See You Again?," appear in the DVD extras.
Last November, he recorded a protest song in the style of Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan called "We Are the Many," supporting the Occupy Movement, highlighting corporate corruption in banking and governance.
For many years, Fulton Tashombe has entertained Maui audiences with his funky soul and jazz. Now he needs a little kokua. Fulton will have lung transplant surgery soon and a benefit concert is being organized by Maui Jazz Society president Bill Burton on Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Iao Theater in Wailuku.
Vibraphone legend Emil Richards will top the bill. A veteran jazz musician who specializes in major movie soundtracks, Richards has an eclectic resume that includes recording and touring with such diverse artists as George Harrison, Frank Sinatra, and Frank Zappa.
Also playing -Fulton's All Star Band, David Choy and Kelly Covington with SLAM, Eric Gilliom, Paul Marchetti, Shiro Mori, Sal Godinez, Danny M and John Zangrando.
Tickets are $20. All proceeds will go to assist Fulton in covering his medical expenses. Tickets may be purchased at Sir Wilfred's in Lahaina, Main Street Bistro in Wailuku, and at the door.
Ebb & Flow's "North South East West Festival 2012" continues with a free "Piano Synergy" concert at Maui Music Conservatory in Kahului at 7:30 p.m on Saturday .
The evening will feature several Maui pianists including Beatrice Scorby, Peiling Lin, Anne Ku Lotus Dancer and Ruth Murata. Two world premieres and 6 Hawaii premieres, including several original works for four pianos will be presented.