various artists,
Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol. III
(Daniel Ho Creations, 2010)

The Masters of Slack Key concert series has been in existence since 2003. The concept is a simple one: take a distinctly Hawaiian style of music, place it in a comfortable, concert setting and introduce audiences to some of its best exponents.

Slack key revolves around fingerpicking. The guitar is usually tuned to a chord (often with exotic names like "D wahine" or "taro patch") and the playing involves a persistent rolling bass line picked by the thumb, with the remaining fingers producing rhythm and melody/harmony. You'll hear harmonics, slides and many other elements that create the image-laden sounds.

The series is hosted by George Kahumoku Jr., a 12-string guitar player, singer and songwriter par excellence. Naturally, he features prominently on this, the sixth collection from the series with a solo song and accompaniment on a couple of other tracks. Other musicians featured include Daniel Ho, Dennis Kamakahi, George's son Keoki and Owana Salazar, as well as Sonny Lim and Kawika Kahiapo. Between them, they present many variations and approaches to the style.

Kahumoku is not only a tremendous performer, he is also one who is acutely aware of the traditions. As a result, he has always encouraged others to take up the music. So it comes as no surprise to see Da Ukulele Boys (ukulele playing cousins Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst) as well as guitarist Sterling Seaton, all part of a new generation, joining in.

Hawaii is also known for its falsetto singing and perhaps the greatest living master is Richard Hoopii, who performs a song here. The same applies to steel guitar, which is represented by the legendary Bobby Ingano.

To date, the five albums from this series have produced four Grammy winners and a nomination. With the dynamic performances, the variety in sounds and the superb live recording quality, another Grammy looks like a real possibility.

music review by
Jamie O'Brien

27 November 2010

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new