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Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack: Shake Those Hula Hips

Matt “Big Kahuna” Catingub is the jazzbo version of Jimmy Buffett. This, however, is not such a bad thing-that is, unless you consider music for Tiki bars a bad thing. The Hawaii-based big man (who croons, plays lead sax and does all the arrangements) and his swinging Copa Cat Pack just wanna get the silly shindig started and, more importantly, get those curiously strong mai tai’s flowing. There are no arrangement tricks to be found on the band’s new disc, Shake Those Hula Hips: Everything is loud and brassy and exactly where you’d expect it to be, and the island boys have no artistic qualms with getting goofy to the theme songs from Hawaii Five-O and I Dream of Jeannie. Guest vocalists Rosemary Clooney and Debby Boone (!) charmingly lend their pipes to “And the Angels Sing” and “Princess Poo-Poo-Ly Has Plenty Papaya,” respectively. And in case you missed the point on the endearing endeavor, the Big Kahuna closes the album with “Tequila.” Drink up!

Catingub was so honored to have Clooney on his disc, he repaid the favor by signing the Copa Cat Pack to back up the living legend on her new disc, Sentimental Journey: The Girl Singer and Her New Big Band. The self-proclaimed Queen of Traditional Pop, Clooney might be a little too golden-yeared to be squeezing into a pair of capri pants-and her voice can’t climb to the sonic landscapes where it once so blissfully roamed-but she certainly has a helluva good time revisiting her salad days with lively takes on “That Old Black Magic,” “I’ll Be Around” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” to name just a few of the albums 16 tried-and-true cuts. A suddenly sober Catingub & Co. tone down their party-all-night routine (and their volume) and allow Clooney the constant spotlight she certainly deserves. What the heck: Sometimes a classy cash bar can be just as good as a wild and woolly open one.

Originally Published