Berkeley-born Hawaiian musician Patrick Landeza is standing at the threshold of a quantum leap in his career. That leap is the result of his new CD, Kama`alua (“to be familiar with”), pre-releases of which have already received accolades from fans and key figures in the Hawaiian music industry. The CD is scheduled for release on December 30, 2011.
“Kama`alua” is a departure from Landeza’s previous releases in scope and sophistication, but it also departs from what has come to be expected in Hawaiian music. While indisputably Hawaiian, “Kama`alua” is a unique integration of Hawai`i and California. Ultimately, the ability to meld these two influences originates from Landeza’s acceptance of his own identity as a California-born Hawaiian whose parents were born in Hawai`i.
The most forthcoming example of this blend is the CDs signature track, “How Would You Feel,” which Landeza composed as a retort to those who, throughout his life, have challenged his identity as a Hawaiian. Audience response has been overwhelming to live performances of the piece in California. Fans have said that they will play the song for their children and grandchildren so that they will know how to respond when, inevitably, their identity as Hawaiians will be questioned.
Landeza’s new rendition of “I Kona” begat expressions of enthusiasm and amazement from top Hawaiian musicians during his most recent trip to Honolulu. Typically played as a lively falsetto piece, Landeza’s arrangement is moving and expressive, emphasizing the song’s poetic verses about the clouds, the calm seas, and the hospitality of Kona’s people. With this rendition, Landeza has given new life to a Hawaiian classic.
Opening the album is the instrumental composition “Ho`omaika`i,” which presents a brief glance of how his slack key stylings have developed over the years. The track representing the album’s title, “Kama`alua,” is an example of a mele `ohana, or song written about Landeza’s lineage.
The overall theme of Kama`alua is that of identity through ancestry. “E Pūpūkani`oe,” written by the legendary composer Dennis Kamakahi, speaks to this theme. On the surface the song is about a land snail that is said to “sing” as it inches up the tree trunks. But the kaona, or