Ginai, Jazz Island, Black Hawaiian Records
Jazz Island happens to be Ginai's debut solo album, but you'd never know it by listening. She's been singing professionally for 30 years, and is backed here by the eminently capable Honolulu Jazz Quartet and guitarist Robert Shinoda.
Despite the album's title, this collection of songs is more jazz than Island, apart from two tracks. The first, "Puamana/All Blues," melds Irmgard Aluli's and Charles Kekua Farden's "Puamana" with Miles Davis' "All Blues," to great effect. It's a mashup that doesn't read as one. The second, the title track and only original composition on the album, doesn't work quite so well; it's hamstrung by lightweight lyrics ("Soon you'll be making the switch/groove till you can't scratch that itch!") and what the liner notes refer to as a "scat rap."
The rest of the album, though, is a solid, straight-ahead roundup of jazz standards: Ginai's self-assured voice makes the most of "Blue Moon," "Days of Wine and Roses" and a surprising vocal version of "Take Five," with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. These are songs Ginai has been living with for years, as her personal liner notes will attest.
Despite the humid cover, this is cool and classy stuff.