The 25 Greatest Hawaii Albums of the New Century
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13) John Kameaaloha Almeida: 1897-1985
John Kameaaloha Almeida, 2003
Almeida passed away in 1985, making him an unlikely contender for a roundup of 21st century albums. But our panelists couldn’t ignore the impact of this 2003 release, which made available, for the first time in years, the recordings of one of Hawaiian music’s most influential figures. Harry B. Soria, who produced the anthology, says, “Almeida was the common man’s composer. He was the opposite side of the spectrum from Charles E. King. There was a lot more sexual innuendo, it was more popular entertainment.” Combined with an astonishingly sophisticated musical sensibility, Almeida’s creations have become indispensible standards.
The Brothers Cazimero, 2008
Composer and kumu hula Alice Namakelua once accused the Cazimero brothers of “bebopping the music.” Now, their jazzy take on Hawaiian has become a respected tradition. Robert Cazimero says the recording process for Destiny was “the most haphazard out of all the albums, in a good way.” After making music for so long, he says he’s come to trust the talent and creativity of the band. “And if the album is true and real, if there’s a good foundation to work from, then I guess it’s ‘destined’ to be good!”
15) Wonderful World
Israel Kamakawiwoole, 2007
Iz’s recordings were put through a new lens for this 2007 project. Using new studio technology not available when the singer was alive, Jon de Mello married Kamakawiwoole’s vocals and ukulele with lush orchestration, creating a sound that hearkened back to his father Jack de Mello’s symphonic albums of the 1960s. “It was an interesting project to put together,” says Jon de Mello. “I wish Iz could have been there in the middle of it.”
16) Na Mele No Na Hanauna
The Lim Family, 2002
Slack key guitarist Sonny Lim is well known as a solo artist, even appearing on the album that won the first Hawaiian-category Grammy award, but his entire family is bursting with musical talent. This album, the title of which translates as Songs for the Generations, was the first the family had recorded in years, and it displayed decades’ worth of experience. “We went to Kona, was in a condo, and we stayed there for a couple of weeks, doing arrangements and recording,” Lim says. “We were together the whole time, and it was a really good creative environment.”
Hear more from Israel Kamakawiwoole, Raiatea Helm, Brothers Cazimero and Kealii Reichel in our web exclusive video.