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World Music CD Reviews Australia & Oceania

KAIMOKU

By Stacy Meyn

The Ukulele Experiment
Kahuku Watermelon Productions

If you think you know the ukulele, Hawaii's Kaimoku trio will expand your impression of this unique instrument. Kaimoku, whose name essentially means "opening," wants you to take the uke seriously as an ensemble instrument, and augment the performances with guitar, piano, percussion, bass and dobro. Yet no matter what, the mighty four-stringed ukulele remains the main attraction. According to a popular story from the late nineteenth century, the instrument got its name ("jumping flea" in Hawaiian), because a decent player's fingers should appear like a swarm on the fingerboard. Kaimoku doesn't disappoint. Louis "Zorro" Maka'ehu's ukulele skills are top-notch, honoring the likes of historic performers Ernest Kaai, King Bennie Nawahi and Eddie Kamae with his Sons of Hawai'i, but with the humor of, say, Tiny Tim. Track titles are refreshingly self-explanatory: "A Surfer's Paradise," "Hawai'i Aloha," "Honolulu Shuffle," "Waikiki Moon," even a jubilant take on the Don Ho classic "Tiny Bubbles."