In 1985, after a long summer on the road with musical parodist
Weird Al Yankovic, Jim West made his first trip to Hana, Maui and fell in love
with cultural and physical landscape of Hawaii, sometimes spending a couple
months a year there. It was there that he also discovered ki ho alu or as it
is more commonly called, slack key guitar, an old Hawaiian style of playing
where the strings are loosened or slacked to different tunings, allowing the
bass, chords and melody to be played simultaneously.
Already a devotee of playing in altered, non-standard tunings,
he quickly fell in love with the gentle spirit of slack key and the great sense
of discovery that comes with exploring new tunings. Records by Gabby Pahinui,
The Sons of Hawaii, The Sunday Manoa and Peter Moon played continuously on the
turntable or cassette deck and Jim absorbed ki ho alu more or less, by osmosis.
Jim didnt concentrate on learning the standard riffs and songs but instead,
developed his own slack key vocabulary which now defines his very unique approach
to this great tradition.
His new CD, "Slack Key West" and his 1999 release,
"Coconut Hat", are some of the first examples of the tradition of
slack key guitar taken to a new and unique place, while still retaining the
essence of the nahenahe or gentle style. Jim, or Kimo as he is called in Hawaii,
has performed at many of the islands slack key guitar festivals and also performs
regularly with Hui, a traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music ensemble.
His playing has been featured in a number of Honda TV spots, the Disney Channel
and National Public radio. His newest CD, "Slack Key West" was released
in June of 2005 and will undoubtedly prove to be another seminal step in the
journey of ki ho 'alu.
Between composing commissions and slack key guitar playing,
Jim also finds time to hone his production chops and has produced CDs for a
number of independent artists. His current project is for Los Angeles-based
Hawaiian performer Kapo Ku, a talented composer of new Hawaiian language mele.
'Jims other hobbies include traveling, scuba diving, hiking, fishing for papio,
cooking and of course, playing guitar!
To order Kimos' CD's visit:
"Slack Key West" (CD
Baby, Amazon and iTunes)
"Coconut Hat" (CD Baby,
Amazon and iTunes)
"The Hawaiian Tribute to Sublime - Livin's EZ" (CMH Records)
If you live in Hawai'i, you can find Kimo's CD's at the following
Borders, Borders Express, Tower Records and Sam Goody, or on the web at www.mele.com
Jim "Kimo" West’'s long-awaited CD, "Slack
Key West", is another great collection of uniquely original ki ho 'alu
instrumentals, with a few choice covers thrown in the mix. Like his initial
outing, "Coconut Hat", this CD is full of warm, acoustic slack key
instrumentals, based on his ever-evolving collection of experiences in the beautiful
islands of Hawai'i, and showcases Kimo's fluid technique and unusual tunings.
The CD's song notes add another dimension to the experience, providing the listener
with insight into the inspiration behind these compositions. Whether you’re
a fan of Hawaiian music or not, this CD is sure to stay at the top of your playlist!