Last week a friend gave me a self-produced CD by, as she put it, "just a couple of local [i.e. Hawaiian] boys." She said that singer-bassist Bruce Hamada and his piano-playing partner Jim Howard have been appearing in the lounge of the Halekulani Hotel at Waikiki for some time now. She was a bit defensive about her praise, repeating the "local boys" proviso several times: "Don't expect too much. . .." etc.
But from the first bar of the CD, entitled How Deep is the Ocean, to the end, I was fairly much knocked out. . .especially by Hamada's singing. And it would seem that he is not so unknown after all. At least not in Japan. Yesterday I received in the mail the current issue of a Japanese music magazine with a review by a Japanese jazz critic friend of mine of a new solo album by Hamada, Two for the Road. And when I emailed and asked my friend how he had come to know about Hamada, it seems that the latter is now well enough known in Japan to be opening for Helen Merrill on her upcoming tour of that country. In the Japanese Jazz scheme of things, that's like opening for Callas. Am I on the same wave length as my fellow Japanese jazz vocal lovers, or wot?
Here's a sample (link for a limited time only) from Hamada's 2001 CD with Jim Howard, with Bruce H. also on bass. I love this kind of approach where the singer just sings the song and goes home. Sure are still a lot of good singers out there.