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July/August 2000

Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack
Hawaiian Swing
Concord Jazz

Like the old saying goes, if you call yourself "Da Big Kahuna," then you should probably expect people to laugh at you. Thankfully, on the new Hawaiian Swing, Matt Catingub is well aware of this tropical maxim: The big-boned band-leader mixes "next-generation swing with the spirit of Aloha" all while sporting a goofy grin splattered on his mug. Although track titles run from "Pearly Shells" to "The Hukilau Song," the music here is about as authentically "Hawaiian" as the theme from Magnum, P.I. But hey, this isn't a history lesson; this is more like the soundtrack to a hipster's big-city clambake. The Copa Cat backing band is three-quarters brass, so the effect is loud and rousing. Catingub's voice is a little thin, but his arrangements, alto sax work and piano playing are good enough to get you dancing in spite of yourself. And sure, Catingub desperately wants to be the Jimmy Buffett of the neo-swing world, but wild, big-band numbers such as "In the Copa Room," "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Them There Eyes" are damn near irresistible in their get-up-and-strut intention. So go ahead: Pour another mai-tai, tug that god-awful Hawaiian shirt out of the bottom drawer and have a few laughs at Da Big Kahuna's expense.

Originally published in July/August 2000
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