Review Hawaiian slack-key guitar began evolving in the 1830s, when Spanish and
Mexican cowboys brought guitars to the cattle ranches of the Big Island. It
became a recognizable style around the turn of the century. The term refers to
the practice of slacking some strings from standard tunings to create open
tunings; the thumb provides the bass line while the other fingers play melody
and improvise. It might thus remind some listeners of the fingerpicking of a
country master like Doc Watson, but the style has a wind-blown, wide-open
quality all its own. Traditionally an accompanying instrument in a group
setting, slack key has recently moved out front, and this all-instrumentals CD
shows why. From the light touch of Moses Kahumoku or Leonard Kwan to the
bluesiness of George Keo or Ray Kane to the pop feel of Keola Beamer, it
offers the best possible introduction to the music. –John Morthland
–Slack Key great Keola Beamer defined the Hawaiian word mana as the
spiritual power that emanates from a material object, that it attains during
its life. The guitars on this album radiate that power. Slack Key guitarists
slacken the strings of their- instruments to produce open tuning – tuning
that, when strummed unfretted, produce chords like G major, G minor, A minor
7th, C 6th. Many of these tunes are slow, with pristine picking, subtle
variations, and notes that seemingly ring forever. Imagine trying to write a
tune, such as Moses Kahumoku plays here, about the U.S. military’s use of a
great volcano in your native land for bombing practice. No words: just nylon
strings and wood to speak of the mountain (itself possessing great mana) and
the bombs. That’s power. The 11 tracks on this Instrumental Collection feature
masters young and old from Dancing Cat’s Slack Key series. Pianist George
Winston has been recording these guys for years now, and even taught himself
to play Slack Key, as heard on his duet with Keola Beamer. Here is Cyril
Pahinui, son of the great Gabby Pahinui, whose recordings with Ry Cooder
introduced many to the subtler sounds of Hawaii. Here is Sonny Chillingworth,
who has passed, playing a tune he heard in a dream. Here is a duet of Slack
Key played with acoustic lap slide, dobro style – the first recording of its
kind. Here, too, are youngsters like Ozzie Kotani, playing his sister’s big
old beach guitar, which, cracked and chipped though it is, still has that
resonance, that mana. –RhythmMusic
- Audio CD (May 23, 1995)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Dancing Cat Records
- #11 in Hawaiian Music
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