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MABANZI MARIMBA

A Mabanzi live performance is a sight to behold. With up to 12 people on stage at once, colorfully dressed and performing a mix of upbeat marimba dance numbers and traditional spirituals in the style of the Shona people of Zimbabwe, it’s hard not to clap and dance along.

 

The members of Mabanzi enjoy a day at the beach. photo: Olivier Koning

Group founder Candice Pacheco says the group’s dynamic is relaxed—everyone moves around and learns all the different parts—and open to new interpretations of this ancient musical style. “Some people on the Mainland are very fundamentalist about Shona music, but we’re not like that,” she says. “We’re trying to honor the music, and not take it to a different place, but we’ll experiment a little.” Singer Leeza Barbosa for example, adds distinctive Cape Verdian vocals (in a dialect of Portuguese) over the Zimbabwean groove. www.mabanzi.com

Mabanzi - “Zendakaiwa”

 

photo: courtesy of Son Caribe
SON CARIBE 

Son Caribe band leader Eddie Ortiz says he founded his group because he wanted Honolulu to have a more aggressive, urban Latin sound, similar to what you can find in New York or L.A. Turns out Honolulu wanted the same thing; in the four years since, Son Caribe has been consistently packing salsa dance floors. “We’ve tried to keep on the cutting edge,” Ortiz says. “My philosophy is, if we see too many people singing along, we’ve been playing the song too long.”

Don’t be intimidated by the words “aggressive” and “cutting edge.” Son Caribe’s music is tailor-made for dancing. Ortiz explains, “Every three or four songs, we’ll play a ballad, or bolero, to give folks a chance a catch their breath. But for the most part, we’re playing happy, upbeat rhythms.”Catch the band this month at Salsathon 2006, June 17-18 at the Ala Moana Beach Park McCoy Pavilion. www.soncaribe.com

Jacob Kaio at the Nu‘uanu Pali. photo: Olivier Koning

JACOB KAIO

Don’t tease bagpiper Jacob Kaio about his kilt. To him, the traditional Scottish garb is right at home in Hawai‘i. “I was playing at this local lu‘au and I was getting comments like, oh, you look stupid in that dress,” he recalls. “That irked me, so I told them, this is a man’s kilt. You guys wear the malo, the lava lava? This is the high-class version.”

Kaio is the highest-ranked piper in Hawai‘i, and the first Native Hawaiian pipe major anywhere. He picked the instrument up in the early ’90s, practicing for hours each day. Of course, Hawai‘i is far from the Mecca of bagpiping, so Kaio has had to travel to the Mainland for instruction and competitions. Still, he thinks his Hawai‘i upbringing has helped his playing: “I’ve always had excellent timing while piping. I think it’s because I’ve been paddling canoe all my life, which has a similar rhythm.”

 

Salsathon 2006—The Sixth Annual Dia de San Juan, Puerto Rican Cultural & Salsa Festival, McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Beach Park, June 17-18, www.salsathon.com.

Esprit Nightclub, Sheraton Waikiki ($5 cover, 2255 Kalakaua Ave., 922-4422), live salsa every Sunday night, 8:30 p.m. to midnight.

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