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World Music CD Reviews North American

MARTIN PAHINUI

By JAMES RODGERS
Published May 31, 2006

Ho’olohe (Listen)
Dancing Cat

George Winston had been after vocalist/slack key guitarist Martin Pahinui to record a solo release for his Dancing Cat label for almost 20 years. After hearing Ho’olohe (Listen), it’s easy to understand why—we should all thank him for his persistence. The youngest son of legendary musician Gabby Pahinui, Martin is blessed with a pure voice armed with mesmerizing falsetto. This is the first label release to focus on vocals over guitar; while the latter is top-notch, it’s that voice making this disc shine. Joined by fellow slack key guitarist George Kuo and bassist Aaron Mahi, the trio plays 13 traditional songs with the perfect blend of respect, reverence and fun. Bobby Ingano joins them on seven tracks, playing steel guitar. Mahi sings harmony as well, the blending an aural tonic. Ho’olohe is both history lesson and a tropical transporter worth taking.