Kirimamae Sings With The Alex Lindsay Orchestra
Kiwi EC-21 7in. 45 rpm. EP
Kirimamae (Phyllis Williams) and the Alex Lindsay Orchestra of Wellington have combined to produce a second recording of Maori songs with strings. This should prove even more popular than the earlier record (Kiwi EC-20, reviewed in an earlier issue of Te Ao Hou), containing as it does such well-known but seldom recorded songs as ‘I Runga Nga Puke’ and ‘Taumarumaru’. Ngata's ‘Haere Mai Ra e te Kawana’ is a stirring reminder of a great occasion in modern Maori history. The highlight of the record for me, however, is Phyllis Williams's version of the Tuwharetoa poi chant ‘He Oriori’. In a rich evocation of the quality of voice used by the kuia of olden times when singing laments and chants, and backed by a haunting viola obbligato, Phyllis Williams makes the chant a beautiful blend of the ancient and the modern.
Mrs Williams's interest in Maori music dates from her childhood at Tolaga Bay, thirty miles north of Gisborne, on the East Coast. She was attracted by the songs of the Maori workers on her father's sheep station and set to work to collect and learn them for herself. Much later she was tutored and instructed by such experts as the late Sir Apirana Ngata, Bishop Herbert Williams and Materoa Reedy. Her collection of waiata became one of the most extensive of its kind. Unfortunately it was burnt when the old Williams homestead at Matahiia Station was destroyed by fire. Gradually however Mrs Williams re-established her collection and added to it.
An Honoured Name
Phyllis Williams is no stranger to radio and concert audiences in this country but it is on her own East Coast amongst the people of Ngati Porou that she enjoys herself most. I well remember some years ago, attending a concert in the famous Uepohatu Hall at Whakarua Park, Ruatoria (where the great Ngarimu V.C. Hui was held). The generator had broken down and the hall was lit by pressure lamps. One of the stars of the show was Phyllis Williams—the only Pakeha in the concert party. Every time she stood to lead a song or dance there was a burst of spontaneous and warm applause from an almost entirely Maori audience who knew an expert performer of their own music when they saw one. Early in her singing career Phyllis Williams was
Mrs Williams is no singer with a superficial interest in Maori songs performing them from a desire to give a little character to her repertoire. For her, the study of the song and story of the Maori has been undertaken because of a deep love and abiding interest in the race from which the music stems. Performed by a Pakeha singer against the background of a string orchestra, yet with the timeless Maori flavour meticulously preserved, both the Kirimamae recordings are an expert fusion of two cultures and an intriguing blend of the old and the new. They should have a place in the collections of all who have a genuine regard for Maori music.
Bill Kerekere Plays Evergreens of Melody
Kiwi EA 78 7in. 45 EP
bill kerekere made his first recording appearance some time ago in a brief excerpt as accompanist to Larry Adler (Kiwi LC-5, ‘A Treasure Chest of Maori Music’). The cover note in one place says that Adler ‘gave a demonstration’ to Kerekere on the art of piano accompanying. I recall thinking at the time that if the record were the grounds for judgement, Mr Kerekere could well afford to give Larry Adler a few
Now Kiwi have featured Bill Kerekere in his own right and he thus becomes the first popular Maori pianist on record. He plays in the modern style but mercifully does not belong to the school which are so carried away by their own virtuosity that one can only guess at the original tune amidst the jumble of ‘variations.’ Although Mr Kerekere improvises with zest and ingenuity—he is an able exponent of the rippling arpeggio and the counter melody against his own accompaniament—yet he is careful not to overplay his hand. The melody comes through strong and clear, but with plenty of light and shade. The result is a sparkling little record which is playable over and over again.
This Is Maureen Kingi Maori Songs With Strings:
Kiwi Lc-8 12in. 33⅓ LP
Maureen Kingi, of Miss New Zealand 1962 fame, makes an encouraging debut as a singer on this record which is also a get-together of some of Kiwi's best known artists. Because of this the disc is something of a mixed bag (as indeed it is intended to be), but there is plenty of variety and the result should please Miss Kingi's fans.
The first side is of Maori tunes and also features the Maranga Club and the Harrison triplets. I hope in future that the Triplets stick to pop music (which they sing well) and leave Maori music alone (which they sing badly). Miss Kingi has a clear sweet voice heard to best effect in ‘Matangi’ and ‘Pokarekare’. The former is one of the best versions I have heard of this song and contains a fine baritone solo. ‘Hokihoki’ and ‘Po Atarau’ contain English interpolations by Miss Kingi explaining the meaning of the Maori verse. This device seems a favourite with Maranga and can be used very effectively to enhance the interest of a particular song. Unfortunately, in this instance, Miss Kingi and the Choir compete with one another for a hearing and the Choir wins hands down.
Apart from this however, the backings by the Maranga Club are well done and do a great deal to enhance the items on the Maori side of the disc.
Side two is music in the modern Pakeha manner which many Maoris in this country seem to perform with more avidity and better results than the Pakeha. As Miss Kingi says in her spoken introduction, the aim of the record is not only to present some of the best-loved Maori songs but also numbers which are sung today by all New Zealanders. Hohepa Mutu makes a welcome though brief appearance on this side of the disc in a duet with Maureen Kingi, ‘Indian Love Call’.