That’s the modes operandi at Chef Chai’s, when singer-pianist Robert Cazimero is in the limelight.
Cazimero opened a rare five-night run last night (Dec. 15) at the restaurant; normally, it’s a monthly one-night Full Moon Concert, but he’s chirping and tickling the ivories for multi-evenings because it’s the Christmas season.
His serenades are informal, impromptu and inviting. Folks go not just for the food by chef Chai Chaowasaree, but for Cazimero’s patter and chatter, with livingroom informaliy. Indeed, it’s like a yuletide family reunion – everyone’s at ease, chuckling, listening and whispering with goodwill and cheer.
It’s more piano bar than showroom stuff, and you never know who’ll show up or not.
On this eve, Cazimero’s lone hula dancer was Bully Keola Makaiau, because partner Sky Perkins Gora had family visiting and took the night off. She’s likely to be aboard tonight.
No matter. With family in the house, Cazimero sister Kanoe, aka Tootsie, was one of two from-the-audience hula stylists who obliged and danced.
This kind of unplanned trysts provide spontaneity and surprise treats.
With the prevailing holiday mood, Cazimero shared a list of Christmas carols and seasonal tunes. One of his faves, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” had a wistful tone. There was quiet, attentive goodwill on “Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”) and audience sing-along on the novelty flashback tune, “The Chipmunk Song” (“Christmas, Christmas time is near”). Then it was another moment of solitude with “Christmas Waltz.”
Yep, he did his “At Home in the Islands,” a signature for Cazimero as well as the tune’s composer, Henry Kapono, and the pendulum swayed to place-specific local tunes, from the comedic “Cock-eyed Mayor of Kaunakakai” to the romantic “Hanalei Moon,” prefaced with a mention that he returned home the day earlier from Kauai.
He shared one tune from his new “Mine” CD, “Hakipu‘u,”with anecdotal mention of Mary Kawena Puku‘i years ago had the lyrics but no melody, so Cazimero composed the song with her lyrics. Sitting an arm’s reach from Kuana Torres Kahele, himself a prolific singer-composer-musician, Cazimero got an assist when Kahele chimed in, without a mike but hearable, and even helped the guy on the piano with lyrics when there was a brief stumble. For the record, Kahele co-produced the “Mine” album, and possibly can sing the entire songlist of Cazimero compositions.
It’s that kind of fellowship that prevails at a Cazimero evening.
He’ll perform through Sunday (Dec. 19), but full houses are anticipated so make reservations at 585-0011. …
And that’s Show Biz ,,,