JAZZ QUARTET AIMS ‘STRAIGHT AHEAD’

It’s been two decades since John Kolivas, the celebrated jazz bassist, established the Honolulu Jazz Quartet. It was formed a few months prior of the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the combo’s  milestone 20th anniversary arrives in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

Not to worry. In-between two global distractions to everyday life, the HJQ has survived with its soothing, improvisational vibe and a consistent repertoire that provides a persistent and perpetual forward thrust.

So to mark its 20th birthday, HJQ takes the spotlight at 7 p.m. Sunday (May 22) at Blue Note Hawaii to continue its jazz roller coaster ride and launch a melodic anniversary CD, dubbed “Straight Ahead,” which will be available for purchase at the Blue Note gift shop in the lobby of the Outrigger Waikiki resort.

Besides Kolivas, the trusty foursome includes saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama, pianist Dan Del Negro, and drummer Noel Okimoto on the CD as well as in live gigs like the Blue Note one.

Honolulu Jazz Quartet: Noel Okimoto, John Kolivas, Dan Del Negro and Tim Tsukiyama.

The disc is a breath of fresh air and perhaps a few notable pegs of influence from the membership. The result: contemporary melodics of some pop treasures that retain the group’s jazz roots and foundation, but opening the welcome mat a bit wider to embrace the ears and hearts of a newer, younger generation of fans. After all, all members have their own brand of musicianship, with audiences familiar with their work as desirable instrumentalists for known vocalists in live gigs in the past two decades. These stellar vets are also notable  bandsmen in club and concert appearances with a retinue of hall of famers, including Jimmy Borges, Betty Loo Taylor, Gabe Baltazar, Shari Lynn, and Loretta Ables Sayre.

Cover of HJQ’s “Straight Ahead” CD.

Surely, Kolivas and crew will share some of the newly recorded tunes on “Straight Ahead” in current and future concerts. The musical journey includes a lilting update of “Scarborough Fair,” the tune associated with Simon and Garfunkel, with Kolivas’ jazz influence defining a bouncy three-quarter-waltz trait that is intoxicating and soothing.

Del Negro, with roots in the south side of the Windy City Chicago, engages a coaxing Jawaiian aura on “Wes’ Side, Brah,” an homage not to “West Side Story” but to Oahu’s westside.

Okimoto pumps up a jazzified “In My Room,” giving the early Beach Boys chart hit, that blues undercoat without sacrificing the familiar melody, reidentifying a pop hit to lure in a modern audience.

Okimoto is A-OK, too, giving the countrified “Wichita Lineman” ballad, composed by Jimmy Webb and popularized  by Glenn Campbell, an airy, improvisational posture. And what’s jazz, without improv?

And while the Great American Songbook legacy generally refers to vocalists who adopt and reinterpret tunes with lasting appeal, Kolivas embraces a few titles to make him eligible to the GAS club. Two George and Ira Gershwin favorites, “Fascinating Rhythm” (arranged by Del Negro) and “Bess You Is My Woman Now” (arrangedby Tsukiyama) are straight ahead winners for loyal older fans.

Kolivas’ composition, “They Grow Up Too Fast,” refers to the blurring passage of time (though specifically, to how quickly his kids have grown up while he’s been creating jazz jive), but that’s the essence of life and music. The process can age you, yet define you, whatever the speed, but in the end, it’s all about the fun. Think a swirl of funk, blues and soul amid the riveting roots of traditional jazz — resulting in a pot luck of comforting, reflective musical nourishment.

And that equates to joy and pleasure, unexpected or anticipated, on “Straight Ahead;” whatever your age and your speed limit, the road leads to fun…

Here, there, everywhere

Augie T.

Comedian Augie T (for Tulba), a City Council member who’s a graduate of Farrington High School, is staging a benefit concert at  8 p.m. May 20 (Friday) at the Farrington High School auditorium.  Mike Tulba also will be featured. It’s a benefit for Student Activities at Farrington — part of Augie’s give-back-to-Farrington posture. Tickets: $10, available at the door. Details: www.augiet.net  …

Robert Cazimero performs at 7 p.m. May 21 (Saturday) at Kahilu Theatre, on the Big Island. It’s a longstanding tradition for him to reconnect, following the pandemic shutdowns, with his Waimea fans. Tickets: www.kahilutheatre.org

John Cruz, on a 25th anniversary tour, also has two playdates at Kahilu Theatre, at 3 and 7 p.m. May 28. Tickets: www.kahilutheatre.org

And that’s Show Biz. …

RECALL THE CHINESE CHECKERS GAME?

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Just asking:

Anybody still play the long-forgotten Chinese checkers game?

You remember how it all works, often with marbles, sometimes with pegs placed in holes, to hop over your competitor?

My game board was a circular tray, with the triangular sectors hiding storage space to put the marbles to rest until the next game.

Any thoughts to share?

HTY, TAG REVEAL FALL SLATES

Two more island theater groups – the Honolulu Theatre for Youth and The Actors Group – have finalized their fall stage seasons.

HTY has embraced a title/theme for its 2022-2023 slate of shows: “E Ho‘i Hou: Return Anew,” a celebratory notion following virtual stagings during the height of the pandemic, anticipating “our return to live gatherings with laughter, stories, culture and learning,” according to Eric Johnson, HTY artistic director.

At TAG, five of its six shows will be Hawaiii premieres – newbies are hot here.

Honolulu Theatre for Youth

The HTY slate, at Tenney Theatre:

  • “The Royal School,” by Lee Cataluna and Moses Goods.
  • “The Pa‘akai We Bring,” by Moses Goods and the HTY Ensemble.
  • “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson,” adapted by Mark Branner, based on the book by Bette Bao Lord, which will tour more than 20 U.S. cities before a staging at Tenney.
  • “Step by Step,” by Reiko Ho and the HTY Ensemble.
  • “Happy, Sad, Sad, Happy,” by Annie Cusick Wood and the The Ensemble.
  • “Peter Pop Pan,” a musical adaption of Peter Pan, by Mattea Mazzella, Eric Johnson and the HTY Ensemble.

Show descriptions, precise performing dates and other details have not yet been announced. For details, visit www.htyweb.org

The Actors Group

TAG shows at the Brad Powell Theatre at the Shops at Dole Cannery will feature fresh and new works; five of the season’s six titles are Hawaii premieres:

  • “The God Committee,” by Mark St. Germain, Sept. 23 through Oct. 16. A medical drama about three patients angling to receive a heart transplant, exploring moral and ethical questions surrounding organ transplants.
  • “Painting TJ,” by Nancy Moss, Nov. 25 through Dec. 18. A tale about a high school junior, whose mother is the school’s headmaster, painting a penis on a statue of Thomas Jefferson, with themes of racism and familial conflicts.
  • “A Soldier’s Play,” by Charles H. Fuller, Jan. 20 through Feb. 12, 2023. A drama set at a Louisiana military base that is racially segregated, where a black soldier is murdered, with tensions of racism.
  • “The Demon of the Burning Boy,” by David West Read, March 24 through April 16, 2023. A teacher’s favorite student is murdered, creating conflicted emotions, including the power to move on.
  • “Uncle Vanya,” by Anton Chekhov, May 26 through June 18, 2023. A powerful literary classic, about the struggles within a family that is timeless and tormenting.
  • “Rotterdam,” by Jon Brittain, July 28 through Aug. 20, 2023. A comedy that raises tough questions about gender, sexuality, love, and how they connect.

Information: (808) 741-4699 or www.taghawaii.net

Honoring dads

Kuana Torres Kahele and Robert Cazimero will do Father’s Day shows at Chef Chai’s.

Father’s Day – Sunday June 19 — will have a Hawaiian vibe at Chef Chai’s, on Kapiolani Boulevard.

You can do an all-you-can-eat lobster tail  buffet at either a brunch or dinner outing.

Kuana Torres Kahele, with the 2000 Miss Aloha Hula winner Tehani Gonzado, headlines the brunch session, with reservations being taken from 9 a.m.to 9:30 a.m. and also from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Robert Cazimero, a monthly Chai’s performer, will reign over the dinner show, with reservations being taken from 4 to 4:30 p.m. and from 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. Cazimero willf feature hula regulars Sky Perkins Gora and Bully Keola Makaiau.

Cost is $125 per person, for the entertainment and special buffet including a gamut of appetizers, soup and salads, plus entree and dessert options.

There is a pre-Father’s Day dinner, on Saturday, June 18, without entertainment, also with a $25 tariff including the lobster tail buffet.

Reservations: (808) 585-0011 or www.chefchai.com

Clublicity notes

Blue Note Hawaii, at the Outrigger Waikiki resort, features these troupers in the nights ahead:

  • Tito Jackson, formerly of the Jackson 5 with his siblings, performs at 6:30 and 9 p.m. May 20 and 21. Tickets: $45 and $55.
  • The Honolulu Jazz Quartet, led by John Kolivas, marks its 20th anniversary with a CD release launch, at 7 p.m. May 22. Tickets: $25 and $35.
Felix Cavaliere of Young Rascals
  • Kuana Torres Kahele teams up with Robert Cazimero, for another Hawaiian collaboration, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 8. Tickets:  $45 and $55.
  • Felix Cavaliere,  formerly of The Young Rascals (aka The Rascals), takes the stage at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 10, 11 and 12. Tickets: $45 and $55.
  • Who’s Bad 20/10, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 17 and 18. Tickets: $35 and $45.
  • Beat-Lele, a Tribute to the Beatles, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 19. Tickets: $25 and $35.

Tickets: (808) 777-4890 or www.bluenotehawaii.com

And that’s Show Biz. …

ENDINGS MATTER, SO WHAT GIVES?

There’s a blurry haze surrounding the fate of “Tokyo Vice,” a gritty HBO Max cop drama set in the seedy underworld of the yakuza of Japan. Will it have a second season? It depends on what you’re reading or hearing. NA (not available) is what’s listed on one website regarding future episodes, but Wikipedia states a logical reason to the mystery: that the show was shut down because of the Covid-19 impact in Japan.

Thus, the never or next issue is still playing out on social media.

The logical indication is, however, that it’s sayonara for the mysterious but engaging 1990s story about a gaijin (foreigner), Jake Adelstein (impressively played by
Ansel Elgort) seeking fame and credibility, working as a novice crime reporter in constant communication with his seasoned mentor, Hiroto Katagiri (superbly played by Ken Watanabe). Adelstein is a real-life cop reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun, who wrote the memoir on which the series was based.

The eighth and final episode ended without the customary to-be-continued notion of a second season, nor an indicator that future life awaits, particularly because of the unfinished business portrayed so far. Awkward!

Alnsel Elgort is Jake Adelstein, Ken Watanabe is Hiroto Kakigiri in “Tokyo Vice.”

It matches the clumsy uncertainty regarding CBS’ “Magnum P.I.,” the domestic procedural which aired its final episode Friday (May 13), following weeks of hopeful wonderment of a fifth season. The episode concluded with shared “I like you” admissions from both Thomas Magnum (Jay Herandez) and Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), likely intended for a sequel that is now impossible. CBS has axed the show. It’s history. Pau.

These two shows – one streaming, the other on prime time TV– represent worst case scenarios of halting ongoing storylines without a proper conclusion. It’s an unexpected slap in the face –  Will Smith, anyone? — on the fan base of dedicated viewers.

Tokyo’s expansive dark alleys and neon signage art have become kind of a “character” of a city with hoods killing clients if they don’t fess up “protection” fees. With so many loose threads, the abrupt ending suggests that all concerned expected a second-season pick-up to sort out the tangles.

Instead, the series concluded with loose, tangled, even bloodied plot strings hanging in the air. Will HBO Max reconsider? Can the show be picked up and streamed elsewhere? No answers here.

The anticipation, and axing, equals the recent undeserving dismissal of CBS’ filmed-in-Hawaii “Magnum,” begging a question: Where are the ethics of the TV industry, which builds up its storylines and yet when push comes to shove, they simply shut down, and call it quits with no lifelines to explore. Literally, diehard followers are left hanging, and they deserve better.

Perhaps the rebooted “Magnum” – a far better procedural than the earlier reboot but canceled “Hawaii Five-O” – had become a victim of too much of the same thing, particularly since CBS’ other brand, “NCIS,” added a colon and an okina to its “NCIS: Hawai‘i,” which was green-lighted for a second season this fall and thus grabbed the next-season ticket despite being a freshman show.  The scenics were postcard-pretty on all the island procedurals; “Magnum” seemed to have become the victim of this- too-much-ness, despite its good but not great ratings. There had been talks earlier of a “Five-O” and “Magnum” crossover, but realistically, that was an odd idea. Brands shouldn’t mix;  like, Starbucks wouldn’t and shouldn’t partner up with Dunkin.’

Perdita Weeks is Juliet Higgins, Jay Hernandez is Thomas Magnum in “Magnum P.I.”

The “NCIS” original, minus Mark Harmon, did a crossover with its “Hawai‘i” sister towards the end of the island show’s first season, so it was a workable same-brand handshake.

Methinks scripts must be logical, with crossosvers.  Think of NBC’s “Chicago” brand with its “Medm” “Fire,” and “P.D.” on Wednesday nights, jammed with operations, fires and thugs, providing fictional fireworks for the Windy City first-responders. Firefighters appear on the hospital show; cops pop up, too, and yes, there are crossovers galore. But the franchise skillfully shares characters, when plotlines warrant the give-and-take.

Similarly, the CBS trio of  back-to-back “FBI” shows on Tuesdays, is ladened with exciting characters tackling current plots that embrace kidnapping, drugs, and gangsters, using the model of “Chicago.”  Thus, judicious crossovers work with this brand, too.

On Thursdays, NBC’s original “Law and Order” has been rebooted and Sam Waterson as Jack McCoy is grappling for tenure again and is basically under utilized to regain his niche again. The long-running “Law and Order: SVU” with Sgt. Olivia Benson (the irrepressible Mariska Hargitay) as the boss trying to curb sexual assaults and crimes has had crossovers plus a spin-off. Thus, stability and durability is working in this camp.

“Law and Order: Organized Crime” still needs fine-tuning, to give  Elliot  Stabler (Christopher Meloni, from the SVU roster earlier) more juice since he’s fumbling to find footing and viewership.

But back to “Tokyo Vice.” It warrants a second season, to clean up some bloodshed, and work out not just the fate of Alderstein but the denizens of characters. Spoilers alert here, if you’re still midway through viewing the show: Will Samantha (Rachel Keller) find her fellow bar hostess, Polina (Ella Rumpf), who has been captured by her boyfriend and taken Samantha’s lifesavings, too? Will Sato (Sho Kasamatsu), survive the dangers  and trappings of his yakuza lords?  Will Katagiri-san’s wife and children dodge the yakuza’s threats of murder. Will Eimi (Rinko Kikuchi), the newspaper editor, finally find faith and trust in her cub reporter Adelstein and assist him with a foothold? Much to chew in this unfinished stew.

Yet it’s been a splendid, unexpected thriller with its fish-out-of-water central figure, in a dangerous  situation with constant threats as he paddles in this uncertain underworld to help curb crime.

Elgort: He learned Japanese phonetically.

If there’s a takeaway, even if there’s no final closure on “Tokyo Vice,” it might be this: watching and hearing Elgort utter his lines in Nihongo is a treat; he memorized his lines phonetically and this accomplishment makes him one of the most unheralded, unappreciated figures in dual-language serials.

As for the “Magnum” playout, there’s a sweeter outlook. At least Magnum’s got his car and Higgins has her mansion. And Hernandez, on social media, was philosophical in his response to the show’s demise.”All good things must come to an end,” he said. “We made memories I’ll be forever grateful for and thanks to each and every one of you for going on this wild ride with us,” he said.”It’s all love. Until next time.”

Now, that’s a sentimental and warm expression of aloha. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

GUTZI OFFERING STAGE WORKSHOPS

You may remember Mary Gutzi as Norma Desmond, in a 2011 production of “Sunset Boulevard,” at Diamond Head Theatre.

Or perhaps, when Gutzi was Grizabella, the aging cat, awaiting ascent to the Heavyside Layer, in a Broadway tour of “Cats” at Blaisdell Concert Hall.

With other credits ranging from “Les Miserables” to “Ragtime,” Gutzi is no stranger to voice and stage technique and tryouts.

So in June, she’s tapping her skills to offer workshops for kids and adults interested in voice and acting  lessons, with tips to prep for future auditions for stage, film and TV roles.

Mary Gutzi

Her agenda:

  • Acting and audition workshop for kids 7 to 14, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. May 22, at Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace.
  • Acting and audition workshop for adults, 15 and older, from 1 to 5 p.m. June 12, at Medici’s, Manoa Marketplace.

Fee for each session is $50, confirmed upon advance payment.

Inquiries: Nancy Bernal at (808) 947-5763, email at NancyBernal@aol.com.

      Send payment to Nancy Bernal, 2444 Hihiwai St., #905, Honolulu HI 96826. …

Broadway show grosses

Check out the grosses for the week ending in May 8, 2022.

Show NameGrossGrossTotalAttn Capacity%Capacity
A STRANGE LOOP$476,797.004,9657,37667.31%
ALADDIN$1,091,385.5513,12313,81694.98%
AMERICAN BUFFALO$514,501.634,6866,00878.00%
BEETLEJUICE$900,622.508,04212,81662.75%
BIRTHDAY CANDLES$264,076.003,6245,81662.31%
CHICAGO$684,274.407,1498,64082.74%
COME FROM AWAY$473,306.684,9268,36858.87%
COMPANY$617,116.735,5638,36866.48%
DEAR EVAN HANSEN$489,004.505,3957,87268.53%
FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF$159,092.902,4216,18439.15%
FUNNY GIRL$1,382,855.759,5129,75297.54%
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY$274,781.503,3416,38452.33%
HADESTOWN$856,528.507,2097,34498.16%
HAMILTON$2,103,020.0010,01210,59294.52%
HANGMEN$252,543.442,6016,41640.54%
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD$1,177,920.8010,46612,97680.66%
HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE$317,017.004,2215,09682.83%
MACBETH$1,365,598.508,0778,40896.06%
MJ THE MUSICAL$1,352,589.009,97311,09689.88%
MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL$1,592,497.5010,32310,40099.26%
MR. SATURDAY NIGHT$565,411.504,0585,95568.14%
MRS. DOUBTFIRE$477,132.005,7108,27269.03%
PARADISE SQUARE$193,669.304,8047,85661.15%
PLAZA SUITE$1,668,783.107,7567,80099.44%
POTUS: OR, BEHIND EVERY GREAT DUMBASS ARE SEVEN WOMEN TRYING TO KEEP HIM ALIVE$380,673.505,70911,60849.18%
SIX$1,162,514.007,9548,24896.44%
TAKE ME OUT$351,909.703,3424,09581.61%
THE BOOK OF MORMON$905,752.717,8758,52892.34%
THE LION KING$1,716,181.0013,19513,56897.25%
THE LITTLE PRINCE$330,668.476,23111,77652.91%
THE MINUTES$346,283.003,6965,33669.27%
THE MUSIC MAN$3,431,657.0812,15112,20099.60%
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA$742,308.207,84712,84061.11%
THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH$174,481.003,3048,46439.04%
TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL$1,065,578.308,69411,82473.53%
WICKED$1,341,127.0011,26414,45677.92%

And that’s Show Biz. …