El Rio Ritmo The first song is the fast moving timba/salsa number, El Rio Ritmo which translates into the river rhythm. The river is a metaphor for the unbroken connection of rhythm and spirit from time immemorial. It reflects the strength of the people and their passion for the divinity that comes from the drum and dance. The song reflects upon my first encounters with rhythm through my grandmother and my own reverence for rhythm-something that could never be taken away. Like the African slaves in the Americas who would use boxes when they were prohibited from using drums and hoe blades when there were prohibited from using bells, el Rio Ritmo could not be stopped. The feeling of unity and the power of the divine is so magnified and apparent when enraptured by rhythm and movement, that to condemn it is, in reality, self condemnation. The theme of the song is the origin of the name of my band Rio Ritmo as well. This recording has Lenny Castellanos on bass and Heriberto Florez on piano (both in the Rio Ritmo band) and trumpet parts are done by Mark Hasselbach who performs with Rio Ritmo on occasion. The vocals, charango, tres and percussion are performed by Nat.
Pali Ku The second song entitled Pali Ku is the surreal voyage to the place on Haleakala (10,000 ft. volcano-the slopes upon which I live) called Pali Ku. A site for spiritual restitution and atonement, Pali Ku is a very dramatic and hauntingly beautiful place on Maui that people have to hike 12 miles to reach. The song is done in the Cuban son style with fused Hawaiian elements including stringed instrument voicings as well as traditional Hawaiian mele (chanting) laced over the polyrhythmic son groove. It features Mark Hasselbach on alto flute.
Cool Vibes Maui The third song entitled Cool Vibes Maui, is a homage to the Mother Maui. After emerging from the subways and streets of New York, the song expresses the joy of being on this beautiful island and the desire to make my home here. It proclaims many of the blessings which abound in Maui’s nature. With Brazilian bluesy progressions and a thick Capoeira groove (Capoeira is a uniquely Brazilian martial art/ dance form which integrates acrobatics and song) including berimbaus, atabaques, agogos and pandeiros, the song ends with Portuguese call and response choruses praising her Imperial Majesty, Mother Maui. .
Muita Saudade de Voce The fourth song is entitled Muita Saudade de Você Bahia and calls out to Bahian Culture with longing, reverence and humor. “Saudade” means missing or longing in Portuguese. The translation of the title is “Missing You So Badly Bahia”. Bahia is the state in Brazil which is the home and birthplace of many of the AfroBrazilian music and dance forms such as Capoeira, Bossa Nova, Samba de Roda, Afoxé and Candomble. The rhythmic style of this song is in another Bahian form called Samba Reggae. It is not really samba, nor is it reggae, but a wonderful musical style in its own right. Made popular by groups such as Olodum (on Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints album), samba reggae is typically played by large drum corps with surdos, cuicas, repiniques, and tamborims and impels people to move in unison. The song features Bob Bangerter on lead guitar.
More Than Friends, More Than Lovers Relationship in the new millenium? the 5th song, More Than Friends, More Than Lovers, offers testimony that love will exist with or without the nomenclature and designations placed upon it by popular culture. With it’s heavily syncopated and driving Reggae bass lines this song seeks true love-absent of fear. Trumpets by Dustin Wind.
Makena Lullaby , the 6th song, is a song of deep reflection on the turns, eternal as they may be, of life and death. The passing of one being and the birth of another was the theme of this composition. Written on Makena beach after seeing 2 day old McKenna so small and beautiful, the cycle of life was once again brought to my attention and, as the whales serenaded me on that Maui winter day, the strain of my father’s inevitable passing was eased. The song feature’s 3 month old McKenna’s vocalizations over entrancing charango and kalimba parts on the reprise.
Remaining Possible The 7th song, the acapella rumba poem entitled Remaining Possible, is a Matanzas style guaguanco rhythm under a poem which implores the need to remain open. Getting “old” isn’t a condition of one’s years, but of one’s state of awareness….”Don’t get so old to where you get brash and bold, giving orders but never be told and your soul has been bought and sold”.
Curandera The 8th song and title track, Curandera, is a funky cha cha in which healing is sought through the infusions of the Curandera’s virtue and compassion. Trumpet parts by Dr. Steve Dubey.
The Way Again The 9th, and my favorite track on the cd, The Way Again, is a song co-written by Aisha Kahlil and me. The song features Aisha Kahlil’s hypnotizing and soulful voice ( see bio above) on the verses with Nat doing the improvisational scatting. This song was born of magic and inspiration which is what Aisha Kahlil’s gift is about to me. I have learned so much from Aisha- through her artistry, her abilities as a composer and vocalist and as a friend. The song is about unlearning…and rediscovering the essential chemistry of our being…inspiration…. devotion…dancing again, singing again, and playing again with joy. Aisha Kahlil on vocals.
Tumbao de Makawao The 10th song on the cd is entitled Would You?, a ballad asking a loved one if she would care to accompany me to eternity.
The 11th song on the cd is entitled Could I? It asks whether or not I am dreaming as I imagine us taking a ride up the river to our favorite waterfall.
The 12th song on the cd is entitled El Tumbao de Makawao and is a Cuban style mambo in spanish. It answers the question most frequently asked of me… Where Are You From?… good question;) interesting answer…(translation included in the lyric booklet). Trumpets by Dustin Wind, piano by Heriberto Florez and Bass solo by Lenny Castellanos.
The last song on the cd is a prayer for the listener entitled Hina Yo. This is a Native American healing prayer song featuring Rainmaker on Native American cedar flute and Nat on vocals integrating Tuvan style throatsinging with guitar and rattle.