Monday, June 29, 2009

Teresa Bright - Tropic Rhapsody (2008)

Two months ago I finally fulfilled my wish to visit Hawaii. I could post for weeks on end about the wonders of these beautiful islands but since this is a site devoted to music I'll pass up that temptation.

Music was part of this vacation. We enjoyed some live hula bands and, while driving, I tuned into radio stations on both Oahu and Maui that played only Hawaiian music featuring native Hawaiian disc jockeys. In addition, toward the end of our two week trip, I went to a Barnes and Noble store on Maui to search for some Hawaiian CDs. I found several that turned out to be excellent purchases. The best one is by singer Teresa Bright. Her latest, released this past December, is Tropic Rhapsody.

Tropic Rhapsody is a true jazz set full of a dozen old standards, many from the big band era and earlier, and all are at least marginally related to the islands in some way. Bright covers "Blue Hawaii" popularized by both Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley. It's originally from the 1937 movie "Waikiki Wedding" as is another of the songs she covers here, "Sweet Leilani." You'll hear "Red Sails In The Sunset" made famous by Nat King Cole, and "Pagan Love Song" from an old Esther Williams movie. "I'll Weave A Lei of Stars For You," which opens the CD, was written by R. Alex Anderson whose most famous work is the Christmas song, "Mele Kalikimaka." Bright also sings three songs in Hawaiian, including the famous "Aloha Oe," composed by the independent Hawaiian nation's beloved last monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani, over a century ago.

Bright's very pleasing and effortless vocals are perfect for small jazz groups. Her band includes piano, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and depending on the track, flute, vibes, percussion, and a violin and cello duo.

Bright is a fine jazz and pop singer whose solo recording career on the islands began in 1990. She is also quite popular in Japan and tours there regularly.

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