By Various Artists;  Daniel Ho Creations

You can tell that the holidays (and Grammy time) are around the corner when the compilations start coming out. This CD is the third in a string of albums recorded at George Kahumoku Jr.’s Maui concert series and released on Daniel Ho’s label. No doubt, the generic “easy to vote for” title will produce grumblings from certain circles in Hawaiian music that don’t like slack key to win the Hawaiian Grammy every year. That’s a shame, because this CD is as well deserving as any with its roster of top notch Hawaiian artists doing some very traditional songs.

Dennis Kamakahi begins the album with a brief chant before breaking into the full on “Maika’i Kaua’i” with his guitar. Led [Kaapana] produces a fine instrumental rendition of “Ku’u Ipo Ona Ona,” followed by Cyril Pahinui singing “Nani Ka’ala.” Hard to get more Hawaiian than that, but the album continues on with excellent contributions from series host George Kahumoku Jr., and other veterans of the Maui concert series such as his son Keoki, Martin Pahinui, label founder Daniel Ho, and relative newcomers like Sterling Seaton.

Keoki Kahumoku jams on “Blue Slacks Slack Key,” which he co wrote with student Brittni Paiva, and leads the rousing “Laupahoehoe Hula” that closes the Cd. One listen to the closing track will explain why Keoki is one of my favorite vocalists as well – he has that great Hawaiian spirit that combines vigor with a sense of humor. Not just a “slack key” CD, this album also features the ever heavenly playing of steel guitarist Bobby Ingano (“Wailana”), and Richard Ho’opi’i‘s (Sol’s brother) rousing ukulele and vocals on “Henehene Ko ‘Aka. Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst, featured as ‘Da ‘Ukulele Boyz‘ on previous Cd’s, can also be heard contributing Uke to various songs. Finally we have the notable inclusion of some excellent female vocals on Owana Salazar‘s “Ali’i Poe.”

Having bought the other Cd’s in this series when they came out, I was pleased upon first listen to find that while the line up and song selection is as good as ever, the recording quality of this latest installment is the best yet. It has taken the series up a notch, and if the last ones were worth a grammy then this one definitely is as well. Whether it wins or not, I highly recommend you go out and buy it.

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