Ekolu’s New Release, Jazz At Manoa
Friday - September 09, 2009
I was given the opportunity to meet and interview Ekolu back in 2006 for a MidWeek cover story. Talk about the nicest bunch of guys!
And I was even treated to a exclusive jam session, while our photographer and I arranged the photo shots. Awesome, yes! But the real reason why Lukela Keala, Makapu Hoopii and Akoni Dellomes made such a positive impact on me was their humble and gracious spirit. They always gave thanks and remembered where they came from.
In the story, Keala was quoted saying, “Down in Kapuna Valley, where I was raised half my life, we didn’t have electric; we had to wash clothes by hand and had lanterns for light. It’s partly because of my past that I am so grateful for the things I have now. So being humble is what makes us Ekolu.”
Three years later, the guys are still living their dreams by holding onto their pasts. And they must be doing something right because they are continuing to stack the airwaves with No. 1 hits.
Since the recent release of the single I’ll Be Good To You, fans have been eagerly waiting to hear what the guys from Maui have coming out next.
Well, wait no longer, gang, because as of yesterday, their album Ekolu Music II Anthem is available in stores. And according to Keala, lead singer and song-writer, this four-month effort tops their Ekolu Music album.
“Ekolu Music 2 Anthem is food for the soul,” says Keala. “It’s like a big brother to the first Ekolu Music album.”
Besides featuring the instant radio hit I’ll Be Good To You, the album includes 11 more tracks: EndlessSummer Nights, You Will Always Be, The Dance Floor, For You Babe, Since You Left, Watayaya, Girl You Know, I Could Never Take The Place, I’m So Glad, Just For You and In The Name Of Jesus.
“In my opinion, the songs I’ll Be Good To You, For You Babe and You Will Always Be will probably be the ones to last a while on the air-waves,” says Keala. “But there’s a song on this album called The Dance Floor that is typically not an Ekolu-radio-friendly song, but if it gets played, people won’t be able stop bobbing their heads when they hear this track.”
Also fresh to this album is the talent of a new member, Big Island boy Kamakoa Lindsey-Asing, who stepped in for Akoni Dellomes.
“Kamakoa picked up not missing a beat - the guy is so talented,” says Keala. “I am very appreciative to have him in the band along with all the other guys. They make the music in my head come alive.
Also big for Ekolu and its own label, Waiehu Records, is a newly built studio the group used to record this album. Of course, they had to break it in themselves recording this album before opening it up to other artists.
To celebrate their release, Ekolu is planning not one, but three CD release parties. They’ll be starting in Hilo at Wai’s Sept. 12, then it’s off to Maui at Lulu’s in Lahaina on Sept. 25, and then Oahu at Pipeline Café Nov. 6.
In the works are CD release parties on Kauai, Molokai and in Kona.
Go check um, go check um, go ...
Also on the go-check-um list is the Manoa Jazz Festival happening next week Saturday (Sept. 19) at UH Manoa’s Andrews Amphitheatre.
The Iolani School Stage Band, led by Curtis Abe, will open the program at 6:30 p.m. Hot 8 Brass Band mixes is up with traditional New Orleans jazz, funk, gospel and a touch of R&B at 7:30 p.m., and the HPU Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Patrick Hennessey, will take the stage at 9:15 p.m.
“This is our first year and we were very pleased we were asked to perform,” says Hennessey, who just retired from the Royal Hawaiian Band, taking on the full-time position as director of bands at HPU. “We try to stick to big band jazz standards and will do things from artists such as Duke Ellington.”
Just a few years old, the HPU Jazz Ensemble is in the building stage. Hennessey, who worked with the UH Jazz Ensemble, says it’s a much different challenge because unlike UH, HPU doesn’t offer a music degree, so the musicians are not music majors.
“Many of my best players at UH were not music majors either, so I’m firmly convinced that we have a fine start,” says Hennessey. “You don’t have to be a music major, it’s the same dedication. It’s all what you put into it.”
The HPU Jazz Ensemble is a talented and growing group of musicians: Scott Villiger, Bredina Lemmer, Larry Cooke, Lloyd Luna, Cody Moore, Daniel Peters, Kyle Wong, Wesley Chon, Jensen Lung, Jeffrey Paragas, Marty Borja, Dylan Yamauchi, Leighton Pohano, Scott Kilousky, Ryoko Oka, Bailey Matsuda, Shay Marcello, Bronson Tanaka, Juan Odean, Christopher Suesz, Jeffrey James, Amanda Llameda, Jared Tomi and Christian Bautista.
Gates open at 6 p.m. for the festival. Advance tickets cost $15-$25; $20-$30 at the door, and are available online at www.etickethawaii.com.
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