Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sol Hoopii (1902-1953)

Sol Hoopii is deservedly considered a master of the Hawaiian steel guitar and an originator of a playing style also used by numerous of his followers. He was born in 1902 in Honolulu, Hawaii, as the youngest of 21 children. At the age of three he already began playing the ukulele and soon included guitar and Hawaiian steel in his playing. At age seventeen he left his home and stowed away on an ocean liner and ended up in San Fransisco and made his way to Los Angeles, where he formed a trio with Glenwood Leslie (ukulele) and Lani McIntire (guitar) - the trio was named Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio and was occasionally extended with Andy Iona on saxophone.
The Novelty Trio often mixed blues and jazz with traditional Hawaiian music. The trio's rendition of "Singing The Blues" is modeled after the famous 1927 version recorded by the Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra and has Hoopii's steel guitar imitating Bix Beiderbecke's and Tram's solo work on this recording.

You may listen to Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio's rendition of "Singing The Blues" in RealAudio by clicking here

The trio also recorded a cover version of New Orleans Rhythm Kings' "Farewell Blues" which is considered one of the more interesting string band recordings of the 1920s. Listen to Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio's rendition of "Farewell Blues" in RealAudio by clicking here

Around 1935 Sol Hoopii switched his acoustic steel guitar to electric lap steel and developed a special tuning for this instrument which allowed more sophisticated chord and melody work. He continued beeing an expert in applying his blues-influenced treatments to the standard songs of the day, as well as to Hawaiian favorites. This ability brought him to the movies - Sol Hoopii performed in several Hollywood movies such as 'Bird Of Paradise', 'Waikiki Wedding' and 'Song of the Islands'. He also performed in the soundtrack to the Betty Boop cartoon 'Betty's Bamboo Isle' - have a view by clicking here

Sol Hoopii gave up his career in secular music in 1938 and made only few recordings until his death at the age of 51 in 1953.

Recently Hana Ola Records has released a compilation cd of early Sol Hoopii recordings (HOCD A682617) including material recorded 1927-1936 covering Hoopii's acoustic period and featuring his Novelty Trio on most tracks. Learn more about the cd and listen to sound-clips in mp3 format by clicking here



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