Taj Mahal’s Hanapepe Dream

Taj Mahal

Hanapepe Dream (Tone-Cool/Kan-Du Records, 2003)

For those feeling a little listless and slothful in the grip of summer’s dog days, let me suggest Hanapepe Dream, the latest from Taj Mahal and The Hula Blues found on Tone-Cool/Kan-Du Records.

The follow up to their 1998 Sacred Island, Hanapepe Dream liquefies the Hawaiian, West African, Blues and Caribbean influences and pours them out perfectly blended. Heavy with lilting Hawaiian steel guitar, bright ukuleles, the slick wah wah of slack-key guitar and saxophone, it slides down cool and frosty like some exotic drink on a hot summer’s day.

But it is Taj Mahal’s voice that intoxicates – that voice that is smooth and silky one minute and rough and rich the next. “Black Jack Davy,” the charming duet “Moonlight Lady” and Mississippi John Hurt’s “Creole Belle” are testaments to Mahal’s powerful command over song lyrics. Set to a shuffling beat and playful sax, Taj Mahal entices the listener with a playfully naughty vocal seduction on “Baby, You’re My Destiny” that culminates with some scat vocals. Mahal even gets in a version of “All Along The Watchtower,” proving that Mahal refuses convention.

I do have to mention the liner notes for Hanapepe Dream. I don’t know who was responsible but – shame, shame, shame! There wasn’t a single mention about the musicians or any of the production staff. The musicians behind The Hula Blues include Carlos Andrade on slack-key guitar; Fred Lunt on Hawaiian steel guitar; Kester Smith on drums; Rudy Costa on saxophone, flute, kalimba and clarinet; Pat Cockett on liliu ukulele; Wayne Jacintho on tenor ukulele; Michael Barretto on baritone ukulele and Pancho Graham on acoustic guitar. These guys are just too good to not mention and proof is in the instrumental title track.

All-in-all Hanapepe Dream is a delightful elixir for those summer doldrums



TJ Nelson is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing
Athena’s Shadow
<http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.asp?bookid=34163>. Set in
Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures
of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long
forgotten family mystery.  Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of
little help in her quest.  Along with her best friends, an attractive
Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading
memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot
her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931. Traversing the line between
the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to
uncover Athena’s true crime.