THE BANKS FAMILY, South Korea, circa 1968: I’m covering my hand in this family portrait, because I accidentally cut my finger with a bobby pin, cried, and got slapped by my parents for embarrassing them in front of the professional photographer. I had to learn to control my emotions early on in life, for other people. Or else. Perfect co-dependent grooming.

I always knew I was different. In school, all the kids came in black and white, with beautiful full foreheads, pronounced bridges, and big lidded eyes. On TV and in the movies, too.

If I didn’t look the way I did, I would’ve become an actress. The Oscars in the early ’70s were a revelation to me. I wanted to be on that stage accepting mine, instead of sitting on the couch next to my chain-smoking parents, watching from the sidelines.

But every time I dared to dream outside my race, I needed only to pass my garish face in…

The late, great jazz entertainer, Jimmy Borges, touched a lot of lives — in Hawaii and the rest of the world. Multi-Grammy-nominated artist Henry Kapono, of C&K fame, and the acclaimed Honolulu Jazz Quartet will perform a special tribute concert at the Blue Note in Waikiki on May 27, 6 p.m.

Anyone growing up in Hawaii during the 1970s-‘80s listened to the sweet, mellow harmonies of Cecilio & Kapono on the radio. The chart-topping, Hawaiian-pop duo provided the soundtrack to many proms, graduations, weddings, and beachside barbecues.

That soundtrack embodied the island lifestyle: surfing, sand, frenz foreva…aloha.

Cecilio David Rodriguez and Henry Kapono Ka’aihue made up C&K, responsible for such hits as “About You,” “Lifetime Party,” “The Night Music,” “Sunflower,” “Life’s Different Now,” and a better version of Stevie Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair.”

Multi-Grammy-nominated singer, guitarist, songwriter Kapono forged his own successful solo career soon after the height of…

The Nashville bassist plays nearly everything in his arsenal to get a rise out of you in his electric-pop turn-over with singer Aly Cutter

When bass and vocals come together for one helluva ride, you get Jon von Boehm/Aly Cutter’s first cross-over pop collab. “Hustle” comes out Monday. Be sure to get yours. It’s whiskey for the soul.

“I’ll have you hooked with a single taste. When I’m done, you’ll never walk away. ’Cause you won’t break something you wanna keep. And I’ll make sure this stays in one piece.” — “Bet You Can’t,” introducing Aly Cutter

Kinda erotic, kinda explicit. Kinda awesome.

Bass composer Jon von Boehm’s upcoming album, Hustle, oozes sex appeal, thanks to Aly Cutter’s lyrical hits. Her silky voice is all you hear, all you wanna hear, enveloped in Matrix dance moves, follow the white rabbit Neo, and bomb-ass bass solos. Lust and love at first sight.

von Boehm records his first vocal pop…

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

in my dreams
I look for a key
already in my front right pocket
next to the plane ticket
and a taped picture of you
and I, together in one of those funny
yearbook poses of the ‘70s

a window is always open
to the other side
storms and dinosaurs, seas and ice caps,
happy, shiny people in Eddie Bauer ads
sipping lattes in gleaming white cups,
their eyes peering over designer glasses -
celebrities, elusive, vibrant, and slightly vacant
when you ask them for the time -
as if they’ve seen a ghost, pass the scones, darling,
where was I…

My worst fear. Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash
"I will not make the same mistakes that you did. I will not let myself 'cause my heart so much misery. I will not break the way you did, you fell so hard. I've learned the hard way to never let it get that far. Because of you, I never stray too far from the sidewalk. Because of you, I learned to play on the safe side, so I don't get hurt. Because of you, I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me. Because of you, I am afraid. I lose my way and it's…

‘Fernweh’ presses a long, prog jazz-rock pause to play it straight in a ravenous entanglement of acoustic gypsy jazz the late Django Reinhardt would adore

Progressive jazz-rock band Marbin turns to gypsy jazz legend, the late Django Reinhardt, for inspiration in its 12th upcoming album, “Fernweh,” due out July 2.

Fans love Marbin’s wacky prog jazz-rock, even if they don’t quite understand all of the inter-tribal flights from folkloric Middle Eastern Europe to Windy City’s modern metropolis. It’s polka-meets-Hendrix for the anything-goes, last-call set, with iconic, cheeky resurgence and righteous, riotous abandon in the imaginations of Chicago-based Israeli band leaders Danny Markovitch (sax) and Dani Rabin (guitar), with Everette Benton Jr. (drums) and Jon Nadel (bass).

Fernweh, Marbin’s upcoming, 12th album (out July 2), goes another way entirely without skipping a beat — into the realm of acoustic gypsy jazz legend, the late guitarist Django Reinhardt. …

My ‘Mulan’ Mother’s Day

Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash

“You saved them today, and still they turned on you.”
— Xianniang, “Mulan”

Everyone thinks she’s Mulan. Even me.

I don’t identify with her perfect beauty or her perfect story wrapped up in an everyman’s tale. (She’s real, btw, not legend.) Nor do I think most everyone else does, either.

For Mother’s Day, we splurged and rented the latest human Disney movie. …

Shawn Maxwell’s ‘Expectation & Experience’ chronicles life in the midst of a global pandemic

Chicago-based jazz saxophonist Shawn Maxwell and 29 of his musician friends put out an artistic, sonic response to the global pandemic and all its desultory disasters in the 17-track album, “Expectation & Experience,” out May 21. Cover painting, “Satellite Collab,” by Lewis Achenbach 2021©lewisachenbach/ARS.

“Beginning to fathom the new (ab)normal. Concerts without audience, sports without crowds, meeting at a distance — wearing masks — without hugs or handshakes.”

— “The New Abnormal,” liner notes

A record like this was inevitable. COVID-19 shut down our lives, our outlets, schools, businesses, real conversations, connections, music, art…things we took for granted in a free world.

Chicago-based saxophone composer Shawn Maxwell did what many artists do to cope.

He created, reflecting an inner and outer world in turmoil, reaching for happiness and hope regardless, holding onto moments that distracted from, hyper-focused on, and despaired the consequences of this…

I’d rather watch the game than make small talk with soccer moms

Na Ali’i OAiea days

WHAT ARE YOU? Loser, Class of ’82. (Korean, I think.)

We’re not supposed to get racial, are we? We can talk around race, put ourselves in little cubbyholes, like little children on the first day of school. But, we can’t name names.

In Aiea, I learned the prettiest girls got all the boys. They were Filipino and Japanese, and they were the Homecoming & Prom Queens every year.

The Filipino ones were nice, but you didn’t stand a chance if even one of them was in the same room with you, waving their magic wands around the star linebacker and the entire trumpet section of the pep rally band.


Carol Banks Weber

Jazz Medium©: Feeling the music, one review at a time.

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