October 17, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, October 6, 2001 

Island Sounds
Don Tiki album captures exotic sounds, party spirit

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Freehand:   New CD by Don Kauli'a

"FREEHAND" by Don Kauli'a, Manawa Records DC 01

Don Kauli'a is a Maui-based slack-key stylist featured on his first solo instrumental CD. Clearly, he has an affinity for ki ho'alu. His name may be unfamiliar to O'ahu audiences, but those on the Valley Island will know him from several groups with whom he frequently performs.

Simplicity is what works for him here. Under the guidance of producer Chance Gardner, Kauli'a glides over a collection of eight originals and three covers, imparting a precise and personal stamp.

He creatively generates a syncopation of his own on the classic "'Opihi Moe Moe," mimics the chimes of whales on "Da Whale Song," suggests the chugging locomotive on "Ka'aahi Kahului," and radiates a spiritual mood on a family hymn, "E Kolu Mea Nui."

Kauli'a adds a romantic, restful country flavor on "Makaha Moon," and "Bikini," written by Kauli'a on a Florida tour, sounds less Hawaiian and more Spanish, with a reason: The composition honors the vaqueros who introduced the guitar to Hawai'i.
A sample of Don Kauli'a's "Opihi Moe Moe" from the album "Freehand" is available for downloading as an mp3 or RealAudio file.

"SKINNY DIP WITH DON TIKI," by Don Tiki, Taboo Records 8889

Don Tiki is Martin Denny for the millennium, purveyors of the musical style that's come to be known as "exotica," complete with tropical percussion, mystical bird calls, demure vocals.

They also call it "lounge music," and it casts its own special spell.

Don Tiki is Perry Coma (keyboards), Hai Jung (bass, vocals), Noel Okimoto (mallets, drums, percussion), Carlinhos de Oliveira (Brazilian percussion), Jim Howard (flute) and Abe Lagrimas (drums).

Exotic music has a flavor and language of its own, a blend of jungle juice with samba seasoning. It's alternately playful and romantic, haunting and mesmerizing, toe-tapping and heart-tugging. Co-producer Kit Ebersbach wrote or co-wrote most of the songs here.

Part of the charm is trying to figure out who does what, because there's a whole community of stellar talent contributing roles big and small, from Teresa Bright to Emmett Yoshioka, Rachel Gonzales to Ben Vegas, Sam Ahia to Lana Warner, Salaam Tillman to Aaron Aronita. And lots more.

Asample of Don Tiki's "Primitiva" from the album "Skinny Dip with Don Tiki" is available for downloading as an mp3 or RealAudio file.