I came across an article from TIME magazine recently about King Bennie Nawahi and it reminded me of the amazing gifts of many Hawaiian musicians and the limited awareness that exists about their abilities as instrumentalists. You can read the article here. King Bennie played during the era of music between the two world wars that throughout the world produced a tremendous trove of exploratory melding of jazz, dixieland, ragtime, swing and world musics from Africa, Cuba and Hawaii. I covered this era in a previous blog post that you can read here.
What really struck a chord with me when reading the TIME article is the level of competence that many Hawaiian musicians of this era had for many musical forms that were created and existed outside of Hawaii. Hawaiians have a natural musicality that translates so well to a variety of instruments and musical genres. King Bennie for one could play steel guitar, ukulele and mandolin all at a level of virtuosity unsurpassed throughout the world. Take a listen to this You Tube playlist to get a taste of his many musical talents: