Today we are joined by the legendary Hawaiian trio The Sunday Manoa. Original members Palani Vaughn, Alfred Kalima, Cyril Pahinui and Peter Moon started the band in the 60s with a few albums to credit before the end of the century. Though many recognize the group with founding member Peter Moon alongside the two young Cazimeros, Roland and Robert. As a trio they released 3 albums including their debut album Guava Jam. Since then they have been recognized as one of the pivotal groups in sparking the 2nd Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance.
Today we are going to focus on the ‘ukulele player of the group Peter Moon and the opening track to the trio’s debut album Guava Jam, Kawika. Kawika is a staple to the Hawaiian musician and even more so the ‘ukulele player. Though they were not the first to record the traditional tune, their recording was the first to really feature the ‘ukulele not only as a rhythm instrument but also as a lead instrument. The song starts with various traditional Hawaiian instruments including ‘uli ‘uli and ipu (a very stereo experience might I say). The ‘ukulele then jumps in and plays the ever memorable riff (0:44) before continuing the solo like an electric guitar from the rock in roll groups of the 60s. That being said, the group continues with hits and breaks, again very similar to what was on the radio in regular rotation (1:19 & 1:41). The song continues with solid rhythm from the group with the ‘ukulele popping in and out with small flourishes (1:10 & 1:24). I love how you can almost hear the snap in his wrist (2:35) as they move into the next verse. After they’ve gone through the chant, Moon solos in the same vein of Stairway to Heaven or Hotel California; in a very heroic manner to the end of the song (something new to the genre of contemporary Hawaiian folk music). Traveling to all reaches of the fretboard, Moon uses double stops (3:19), hammer-ons (3:23), pull-offs (3:48), and even the occasional sweep (3:30) that keeps listener at the edge of their seat. Coming back to the riff they wrap up the song as all the instruments slowly fade away.
Though the recording itself is timeless, part of what makes this recording so significant is the era in which it came out. Their was a revitalized interest in traditional Hawaiian culture which gave way to a synthesis of the old and the current to form a new face for Hawaiian music!
UkePrints is a curated playlist of some essential ukulele tracks that all ukulele player should listen to. These songs have left a legacy for future players and in essence, sound impressions of the ‘ukulele or what I like to call them: UkePrints.