Vaihi occupies a unique place in Hawaii as a multifaceted Polynesian quartet with strong Tahitian roots and a feel for soulful American pop. It’s not surprising that their “Hawaiian album” includes several contemporary Tahitian songs. A smooth arrangement of a pop standard, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” featuring Vaihi’s “Braddah Sam” Langi Jr. on lead vocals, and instrumental support from guest musicians Steve Jones and Herb Ohta Jr. fits nicely as well.
Vaihi succeeds in presenting a cross-cultural potpourri, but several Hawaiian songs stand out. Vaihi’s “Lae Lae Medley” establishes the theme with three Hawaiian-language standards, and “Hawaii ’78” adds a contemporary nationalist call for ku’e (resistance) to ceaseless development that is as timely now as it was in 1978. “Koke’e” and “Nani Wae’ale’ale” honor tradition with well-crafted original arrangements. “Sweet,” a Bill Kaiwa tune recorded here with a string quartet, is memorable as well.
John Berger, Honolulu Star Bulletin
Vaihi — Aaron Kaonohi, Bruce Naluai, Peter “Piko” Lakatani and Sam Langi Jr. — weds two Polynesian cultures because of fan demands in California, Japan and Tahiti. Some of the music seems improv — that is, loose, fun, casual — with hearty-party spirit.
The opening cut of “Nave Nave” (which means “pleasing” in Tahitian) is “Laelae Medley,” robust and rich in vocal and instrumental dexterity, and sounding almost like a tribute to The Brothers Cazimero, with its lively and impromptu flavor in marrying three titles: “Nani Ka’ala,” “Wai O Ke Aniani” and “Pauoa Ka Liko Lehua.” Sets the mood nicely for what follows — a ride through South Seas tunes like “Ma O Hina,” “Te Vai Hau,” “Rata No To’u Metua” and “Hue A Te Tama,” a turf that Vaihi has dominated for some time now.
A pair of covers — “Hawai’i ’78,” revisiting the turf of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and “Koke’e,” flashing back to Dennis Kamakahi’s Kaua’i “place” favorite — provide a comfort zone of familiarity.
Our take: Good vibes, through and through, yes, very nave nave.
Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser