By Wayne Harada
CD RELEASE PARTY
7 to 10 p.m. Saturday (March 28),
Bishop Museum lawn and planetarium
For her latest CD, Taimane Gardner reaches for the stars for inspiration and shines like one as a result.
The disc is entitled “We Are Made of Stars” (Taimane Gardner 213), being formally launched Saturday at a CD release party at Bishop Museum.
She may not yet be a true household name, but visitors have seen and heard Taimane, as she is billed, since her ukulele and vocal artistry have been widely exposed in performances with the late Don Ho as a featured act, and also at Waikiki hotels like the Hyatt Regency Waikiki where she strums her trusty ukulele as a soloist.
This self-produced CD looms as her ticket to stardom — her most creative effort to date and one in which most of her compositions are inspired by what’s out there.
Ambitious is the defining word here; Taimane explores elements from the universe to shape and mold her melodies. The key: Performing the melodies as stand-alone tunes for her live performances. That’s to say, within the context of the album, she has fashioned a concept disc with credibility, merit and invention. The skies and stars have long had an impact on Hawaiians, from navigators to worshippers, so why not a musician as well? But will they stand up outside of the concept album?
Her style and creativity would prevail on terra firma, for sure, and there’s no reason why a female ukester can’t make the charts. Homegrown sensation Jake Shimabukuro made it on his own terms, and Taimane can also take flight.
The sky’s the limit, so “Jupiter” — one of the most energetic tracks here —is quite the instrumental jam, with choral riffs, and richly flashy without being showy.
“Mars” also is dazzling amongf the finds. Her ukulele style is well served here, with alternately simple and sizzling strumming. Wordless, she lets her fingers do all the talking and the dancing — but the song also features Tahitian lyrics and chanting.
Similarly, “Mercury” is a vivid and sparkling excursion with nimble and contagious strumming that has become her forte.
There’s a mix of different languages here and there — Japanese, Hawaiian, Native American — on “Mother Earth,” a Hawaiian mele with requisite chant format and syncopation, with Dr. Pualani Kanahele featured amid a familiar “E Ala E” chant and the evergreeb Japanese “Sakura” tune.
For contrast, examine “Father Sky,” softer in tone and delivery, with quiet nobility and dignity.
Overall, it’s all spacey but satisfying. It's time to fully welcome Taimane to the galaxy of greats.