“Made In Hawai'i”
Lele Music Productions (LMPCD 1011)
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Review By John Berger
Chino Montero is not only a Grammy Award finalist and Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner. Ukulele virtuoso Troy Fernandez credits him with being one of his own early musical influences.
Now, after recording with Fernandez and Nathan Nahinu as members of the group Palolo and as a sideman on countless other projects, Montero is making his long-awaited debut as a solo
Long awaited it is, and well worth waiting for. Montero’s formidable talents as a musician and vocalist are displayed throughout.
For starters, Montero sings all the parts and accompanies himself on guitar, ukulele and Tahitian banjo. Bassist Jack Ofoia, another island music industry veteran, completes the basic instrumentation on almost every song. Nahinu plays bass on “I Kona,” and Greg Sardinha (steel guitar), Garin Poliahu (drums/ipu) and Halehaku Seabury (ipu) sit in elsewhere.
Montero opens with a zesty arrangement of “Ahulili” that adds the distinctive sound of the Tahitian banjo to the traditional Hawaiian instruments — ukulele, guitar and bass. Montero also uses the Tahitian instrument to good effect in heightening the cha-lang-alang sound of “Ku’u
Hoa, “No Ka Pueo Kahi (No Ka Pueo)” and “I Kona.” Island musicians have been adapting and adopting haole (non-Hawaiian) ideas for more than two centuries and the Tahitian banjo is a natural fit.
On “Hi‘ilawe,” Montero sticks to the traditional Hawaiian instruments and adds Poliahu and Seabury on ipu. The song is also an impressive demonstration of his vocal range. Take note of the way he holds that final note!
“Aloha Ku‘u Pua” and “Kawena” show off his lower register singing with equal success. “Kawena” is the one original on the album. It’s a contemporary hapa-haole song about a special hula dancer in Waikiki.
01. Ahulili 3:05 By: Scott Haʻi, Traditional
This song with its many versions is about ʻAhulili, a mountain peak in Kaupo, Maui. Lili means jealous.
02. Ku'u Hoa 2:57 By: Francis Kealiʻi Nohopono Beamer, Starscape Music, ASCAP
Written in 1937 for the composer's wife, Louise Leiomalama Walker Beamer. She was the Hawaiian culture consultant for the movie "Waikiki Wedding" starring Bing Crosby. Injuring her foot, she was unable to work at the studio for a week, inspiring Pono to set his desire to music - to return with his sweetheart to their home in the kuahiwi of Alewa Heights.
03. Hi'ilawe 4:04 By: Sam Liʻa Kalainaina Sr., Traditional
This mele is about a love affair at Hi`ilawe (highest waterfall in Hawai`i) and Waio`ulu, two waterfalls in Waipi`o Valley on the Big Island. The girl, from Puna, describes herself poetically as the fragrance from Puna. Distressed by the gossip mongers, she calls them chattering birds. Mist of the mountains in the 3rd verse is the poetic way of saying this is a secret love affair. Lâlâkea and Hakalaoa are streams at the top of Waip`io Valley that flow over the cliff forming the twin waterfalls of Hi`ilawe and Hakalaoa. They merge into the Hi`ilawe stream that is one of two main waterways in Waip`io Valley.
04. E Ku'u Lei, E Ku'uipo 2:53 By: Kalei Kaluna
A love song from Punalu'u, Hawai'i
05. Hoʻoipoipo (Ipo Hula) 2:27 By: Lena Machado, Accadia Music Company, ASCAP
06. Kawena 3:34 By: David Chino Montero, Ahe Street Publishing, ASCAP
Speaks of a friend that effortlessly dances hula in Waikiki. It's my tribute to her as a friend and how she gracefully interprets songs of Hawai'i through her hula.
07. Aloha Ku'u Pua 3:24 By: Alvin K. Isaacs, Criterion Music Corp., ASCAP
A song about a flower that touches oneʻs heart and how it feels.
08. No Ka Pueo Kahi (No Ka Pueo) 2:44 By: Samuel Kalani Kāʻeo, Traditional
The Pueo Kahi was a ship named for a village near Hana, Maui. A ship, boat or canoe in Hawaiian mele is a poetic reference to a woman. Older versions begin the song "No Pueo kahi ke aloha".
09. I Kona 3:48 By: James Kelepolo, Traditional
Composed in 1929, the lyrics were given to George Naope by James Kelepolo in the early 1980s. The mele expresses the composer's love for Kona on the Island of Hawaiʻi and the reason he moved there.
10. Waikaloa 2:58 By: John Pi'ilani Watkins
Written in 1947, for Waikaloa on the island of Maui, next to Hana bay. Ka`uiki, the hill overlooking the bay, was the birthplace of Ka`ahumanu.
11. Poni Aloha 3:21 By: George Manoa Huddy
Gentle Hawaiian song about the abundance of love for a special lei (sweetheart)