The nine-piece band Kahulanui will bring its unique big band swing sound, mixed with a bit of the Hawaiian Islands, when it plays the South Sound this weekend
The band uses four horns plus guitar, bass, ukulele, drums and steel guitar to recreate the big band sound brought to the islands by members of the armed forces leading up to and during World War II.
The band is led by Lolena Naipo Jr. He remembers hearing stories from his grandfather, who was a member of the Royal Hawaiian Band in an era when horns and drums were part of Hawaiian music.
In the 1920s and ’30s, Hawaiian swing was a blend of swing jazz commonly heard on the mainland and Hawaiian folk music.
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During World War II, American servicemen and entertainers coming to Hawaii brought the big band swing music popular at the time. Hawaiian musicians melded the sounds of the ukulele, steel guitar, and Hawaiian language with the brass, drums and rhythms of swing, Naipo said.
It took about 30 years for Naipo to make his vision for Kahulanui (which means the big dance) into reality. And the group has met with quick success. The band’s debut album, “Hula Ku’i,” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2014.
The South Sound performances are part of a short three-week swing through Washington, California and Idaho. Back in Hawaii, the band plays regularly at the Napua Restaurant at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel on the Big Island.
Pre-show lecture: Prior to the Tacoma performance, there will be a presentation on “The Story of Hawaiian Swing” in Studio 1. The 60-minute presentation is a look at the personal history of third-generation band leader Lolena Naipo, and the evolution of Hawaiian swing from the 1920s to the present.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday (March 18).
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.
Tickets: $15-$38. Available through the box office or washingtoncenter.org.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Rialto Theater, 310 S. Ninth St., Tacoma.
Tickets: $32-$55. Available through the box office or broadwaycenter.org.