Kilauea, a contemporary jazz group owned by Dean Whitney, started out in 1990 doing covers of tunes written by Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons. After ten successful years, the band members each began their own solo careers when the band contract expired, but in 2005 reunited for a reunion concert at the Catalina Jazz Festival.
Playing original compositions of Daniel Ho, the pianist in the ensemble, the energy of the group came to life – it was like Kilauea never broke up. The excitement of the members performing together again was apparent and reflected in their performance, allowing the show to be all the more entertaining for the audience. The dynamics of each member of the band contributed to the inspiration they received from one another in their playing.
The music performed at the Catalina Jazz Festival by Kilauea included a medley of compositions from their six CDs in addition to one song written by Daniel Ho from his solo CD playing Hawaiian slack key guitar. Accompanied by Randy Drake and bass player Steve Billman, Coolest Drop of Rain featuring Daniel on guitar and vocals by far contrasted with the rest of the set, but was just as pleasing and energetic as the faster, more contemporary tunes performed by the entire ensemble.
Two of the songs performed at the festival were Avalon Sunrise and Waimea Bay (whose publishing title is still Catalina Island) greatly pleased Art Good, the festival host (who had the idea to reunite Kilauea in the first place) and were also big hits with the audience. Their signature composition, Theresa’s Confession, however, was the favorite and received the strongest applause and response from the attending crowd.
Overall, the Kilauea Reunion was one of the highest energy and most exciting shows at the Catalina Jazz Festival. The music was inspiring, the individual musicality, technique, and creativity of the players was incredible, and the appreciation and friendship between the members of the band was heartening. Having had such a positive performance after ten years of being apart, Kilauea has already made plans to reunite in the near future, which will be greatly anticipated by their already growing following.