Smooth Island Jazz Mokoli’i Liner Notes

1. SITTIN’ AROUND featuring John Cruz
Written by: E. Downs, ℗ 1996 Lilikoi Music
Musicians: Moon Brown – Alto Sax, Programming; Reggie Griffin – Drum Programming, Keyboards, Guitars, Bass Guitar; John Cruz – Vocals

Moon Brown’s smoky saxophone and John Cruz’s low-key vocals launch Smooth Island Jazz Mokoli’i with “Sittin’ Around,” adding a cool, grooving vibe for a slow cruise on the road, a relaxing evening in, or any time you need some musical decompression. Multi-instrument musicianship by Reggie Griffin adds to the mellow island feel; you can practically see the palm trees swaying and feel the tropical tradewinds.

2. NIGHTBIRD featuring Malani Bilyeu
Written by: M. Feary, Jr., ℗ 1975 Malani Bilyeu 
Musicians: Moon Brown – Alto Sax, Programming; Reggie Griffin – Drum Programming, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Flute; Malani Bilyeu – Vocals

“Nightbird,” an island classic love song made famous by legendary island band Kalapana, takes flight once more with a rhythmic feel with Moon Brown’s smooth saxophone leading the way. Vocals by the late Malani Bilyeu, a founding member of Kalapana, complement the percussion, guitar, bass, and keyboards by Reggie Griffin.

3. MORNING DEW featuring Moon Brown
Written by: E. Kamae, L. Kimura, ℗ 1973 Hawai‘i Sons Publishing
Musicians: Moon Brown – Alto Sax; Reggie Griffin – Guitars; Sean Na‘auao – Hawaiian Nose Flute

The light, yet meaningful instrumental treatment by Moon Brown on alto sax and Reggie Griffin on guitars in “Morning Dew,” a classic Hawai‘i song by the late, prolific composer Eddie Kamae, reflects the earnest sweetness of the love professed in Larry Kimura’s original Hawaiian lyrics. The trilling of the Hawaiian nose flute by Sean Na‘auao is gentle, while urgent, as if calling to a lover.

4. ABOUT YOU featuring Sean Na‘auao 
Written by: C. Rodriguez, ℗ 1975 Sony Music Entertainment, Inc
Musicians: Moon Brown – Alto Sax; Reggie Griffin – Drum Programming, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Keyboards; Sean Na‘auao – Rhythm and Solo Guitar

A slow-dance classic originally released by isle duo Cecilio and Kapono during the second Hawaiian Renaissance, “About You” was part of a pioneering movement in local music and dominated island airwaves. It became “our song” for many a couple and still serves as a favorite at weddings. The sultry saxophone of Moon Brown and the intricate solo guitar work by Sean Na‘auao, rounded out by Reggie Griffin’s guitar, bass guitar and percussion, softly light the dance floor for a new generation of lovers.

5. KU‘U LEI ‘AWAPUHI featuring Kivin Kalauli
Written by: E. Taylor, publisher unknown
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – Guitar, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Xaphoon; Kivin Kalauli – Steel String Guitar; Jan Jeffries – Percussion 

The allegorical “Ku‘u Lei ‘Awapuhi” equates lovers finding and embracing one another, to intoxicatingly fragrant ginger flowers enrobed in misty rain. Featuring the light, airy and precise playing of late session musician Kivin Kalauli on steel string guitar; the unique Xaphoon, invented on Maui, a cross between a clarinet and saxophone, played by Reggie Griffin, as well as Jan Jeffries on percussion, the song written in 1951 to the melody of Kuʻu Lei Pūpū (your lei of shells), brings these layers of melodic sweetness to a whole new audience. 

6. KONA WINDS featuring Charles Ka‘upu
Written by: R. Griffin, C. Ka‘upu, ℗ 2003 Jubal Music Publishing ASCAP, Grifbilt Music, BMI 
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – Guitars, Programming, Keyboards, Piano; Rayford Griffin – Drums; Charles Ka‘upu – Hawaiian Chant

An original composition that includes the actual sound of the famed, heated, “Kona Winds,” the song by Reggie Griffin with original, haunting Hawaiian chant by the late, legendary Hawaiian cultural practitioner Charles Ka‘upu. The chant poetically calls for a blessing over the land that belongs to all generations, past, present, and future. Guitars, keyboards and piano by Reggie Griffin and drums by brother Rayford Griffin showcase the chant in this unique melding of genres.

7. NATURALLY featuring Malani Bilyeu
Written by: M. Bilyeu, ℗ 1975 Malani Bilyeu
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – Soprano Sax, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion Programming; Malani Bilyeu – Guitar, Vocals; Moon Brown – Alto Sax

One of the most powerful, impactful songs of the self-titled Kalapana debut album, “Naturally,” by the late Malani Bilyeu, includes the composer and lead vocalist on this Smooth Island Jazz Mokoli’i homage. Much as with traditional Hawaiian song, this contemporary island classic speaks symbolically of soaring while hang-gliding, though the meaning is inspired by this thing we call life. Hang-gliding has largely given way in the islands to paragliding, which you will see while continuing your real or virtual cruise around O‘ahu, from Nānākuli to Makapu‘u and Kahana Bay. 

Written by: K. Beamer, ℗ 1978 Niniko Music, ASCAP
Musicians: Moon Brown – Alto Sax, Programming; Reggie Griffin – Drum Programming, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboards; Kivin Kalauli – Guitar; Sean Na‘auao – Guitar; Jan Jeffries – Percussion; Rayford Griffin – Drums

One of the most famous contemporary Hawaiian songs of all time; Moon Brown’s saxophone follows the original “Honolulu City Lights” melody and also soars above Honolulu and Waikīkī high-rises, providing an aerial, mind’s eye drone view of the welcoming, largest city in paradise. With musicality from Reggie Griffin on guitar, bass and keyboards and more nuances provided by the guitars of Sean Na‘auao and the late Kivin Kalauli; Jan Jeffries’ percussion and drums by Rayford Griffin, the song speaks of Honolulu’s unconquerable allure, grasping at least one heartstring that will remain connected to all who experience it; whether in the bright, tradewind-cooled, sunny light of day, or by moonlight.

9. ISLAND STYLE featuring John Cruz
Written by: J. Cruz, ℗ 1996 Lilikoi Music
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – Soprano Sax, Drum Programming, Keyboards, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Background Vocals; John Cruz – Vocals, Guitar Solo

Traipsing through Jamaican-influenced Hawaiian music, a genre known locally as “Jawaiian,” “Island Style” is a must-play at any backyard pa‘ina (party) with kani ka pila (spontaneous music performance). This island classic by John Cruz features the composer on vocals and a guitar solo, as Reggie Griffin carries the rest of the fun, whimsical vibe on soprano sax, keyboards, guitar, and bass.

10. WHITE SANDY BEACH featuring Reggie Griffin
Written by: W. Dann; Publisher Unknown 
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – C Melody Sax, Drum Programming, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Keyboards; Jan Jeffries – Percussion

Made famous by a 1993 release by the late Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole, this version of “White Sandy Beach” is another light-footed jaunt through Jawaiian-style music, replete with the sounds of the ocean. You can almost feel the ripples of ocean water and sand swirling around your feet and between your toes. Reggie Griffin’s C melody sax, guitars, bass, and keyboards; with perfect percussion from Jan Jeffries, carries the journey forward.

11. AFTER THE STORM featuring Rayford Griffin
Written by: R. Griffin, ℗ 2003 Grifbilt Music, BMI
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – C Melody Sax, Guitars, Keyboards; Rayford Griffin – Drums, Percussion

An original composition exclusive to Smooth Island Jazz Mokoli’i, “After the Storm” evokes the calm after rains and wind retreat, leaving reflective sparkles of light dancing, as if to celebrate. The vibe laid down by the Brothers Griffin, Reggie Griffin on sax, guitars and keyboards, and Rayford Griffin on drums and percussion, also has the feeling of winding down after an exuberant night — or in the wee hours of the morning — as neon lights turn off to give way to a rising sun.

12. HARVEST OF RAINBOWS featuring Ginai
Written by: C. Pahinui, C. Pahinui, ℗ 1984 Peter Moon Band Publishing 
Musicians: Reggie Griffin – C Melody Sax, Drum Programming, Rhythm Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Background Vocals; Kivin Kalauli – Nylon String Guitar; Ginai – Scat and Background Vocals; Rayford Griffin – Drums

A funky first flourish sets the tone for the smoothly gentle groove, to the love song composed by Cyril and Charmagne Pahinui, of the legendary Pahinui family of Hawaiian musicians. Reggie Griffin’s interpretation with guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals, flows with a gentle vibe heated up with his bright sax, just as the creation of rainbows requires both rain and sunshine. The tropical Hawaiian seasoning that flavors this song comes from the late Kivin Kalauli on nylon string guitar, while Rayford Griffin is on drums and jazz singer Ginai provides ethereal and soulful vocals and scat.