Jumpin’ With Jimmy
Jimmy Borges and some of his jazzy - and talented - friends debut a new live music show Thursday on PBS Hawaii
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“The premise is locals who have made their name in the world of jazz or pop music,” Borges says, noting he chose Islanders, born or raised in Hawaii, to showcase the diversity of accomplished musicians here. Baltazar and Wilson are from Hilo. Taylor, Okimoto, and Jones are from Honolulu. Catingub, although born in Samoa, is Hawaiian pedigree as far as Borges is concerned.
“He’s brown. I’m brown. ‘Nuff said,” declares Borges.
As far as jazz talent is concerned, it doesn’t get much better. Add the clarity and expressiveness of Borges’ vocal renditions, and you have a gold standard of music. Chickenskin with a swing beat.
“Jazz is a legitimate musical force and form, and something young Hawaiians can aspire to if that’s their tendency,” Borges says. “We have many fine artists doing Hawaiian music, but there should be no fear of crossing over to another genre to pursue fame.”
Borges, 72, is living proof that a kid from Kalihi can sing Cole Porter, George Gershwin and other Great American Songbook gems, and succeed in the Hawaii and international markets. While he loves Hawaiian music - hoping someday to record Great American standards in the Hawaiian language - Borges found his niche in being himself.
“I don’t consider myself a jazz singer,” he says. “I consider myself a jazz-oriented pop singer. I have jazz innuendo and inflections in my song delineations. That’s natural with me.”
Borges has stayed true to his core competence, without wavering. He has been a nightclub headliner in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Honolulu. There also have been symphony concert engagements, jazz gigs, and even acting roles through the years of his career. Oh, and then there all the times he’s sung the Star-Spangled Banner before NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball games.
The great Tony Bennett touts Borges’ talents by declaring, “Wherever this man goes, follow him.”
Fill my heart with song, And let me sing forever more. From the opening strains of I’ve Got the World on a String to a swinging finale of Fly Me to the Moon, the two-hour PBS special delivers one masterful moment after another. Borges narrates the various segments with his characteristic charisma and wit.
But always, there is abiding respect for the music and songs, as they were written and
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