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Music We Missed: Waitiki 7

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Music We Missed: Waitiki 7

Music We Missed: Waitiki 7

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

President Obama is spending Christmas in Hawaii. So it is possible to imagine the first family - or at least some of their Hawaiian neighbors - listening to music like this.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: We're listening to the Waitiki 7. Their release "New Sounds of Exotica" is the latest in our series of Music We Missed in 2010. These seven musicians play a style that seemed to have gone out of fashion with the tiki bar.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. RANDY WONG (Bandleader, Waitiki 7): It's a soundscape. It's the sound track to, you know, your imaginary Polynesian adventure.

INSKEEP: Bandleader Randy Wong is 30, meaning he wasn't even born when this music, called exotica, was popular in the 1950s and '60s.

Mr. WONG: Oh, man. It's like, it's the virtuosic musicianship. The chops that those players had are just - they're blazing, man.

INSKEEP: And Wong thinks exotica was unfairly forgotten.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. WONG: The music became so popular that it became cliche. And so in the '70s, '80s and '90s in Hawaii, it's been completely missing. We just thought, hey, it's time to bring it back and let people of our generation know about this music and, you know, not to let it, you know, go by the wayside.

INSKEEP: Which is why the music of the Waitiki 7 draws on old recordings from a generation or two ago.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Here, we're listening to the decades-old music of an exotica star, Martin Denny. He was one of the Americans who created this music in Hawaii, blending Polynesian music with jazz. In this old recording, you'll notice the chirping birds.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: The bird calls were made by a member of Martin Denny's band. That band member's son is Lopaka Colon.

Mr. LOPAKA COLON (Musician, Waitiki 7): Its all the stuff that he got while he was pig hunting here in Hawaii. And he would just be like...

(Soundbite of Colon's imitation of a bird)

Mr. COLON: Stuff like that. He would do, like, dove calls...

(Soundbite of Colon's imitation of a dove)

INSKEEP: And today, the son is making similar sounds for the Waitiki 7.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. COLON: I got turned on to this music, I guess, from since I was in my mom's belly.

INSKEEP: It's in his bones. And now, the Waitiki 7 are offering their "New Sounds of Exotica" to a new generation.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: You can find more music we missed, exotic or not, at npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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