Brittni Paiva – Living Ukulele

by | Jan 16, 2012 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Brittni Paiva – Living Ukulele – DVD (2011)
Live performances by Brittini Paiva; Interviews with Charles Michael Brotman, Herb Ohta San, Tom Scott, Keoki Kahumoku, IwaoYamaguchi, Richard Ho’opi’i, Daniel Ho and Brother Noland
Director: Kenneth K. Martinez Burgmaier
Studio: Jazz Alley TV Studios/ Koa Kai Films/Antiques Made Weekly Films/Talmidin Productions
Video: 16×9 color
Audio: English PCM Stereo
Chapters: Early Years And Live; Koaloha Ukulele; Lava Trek; Surfing Lessons-Oahu; Ukulele Competition; Lana’i Jazz Festival; Australia; Music Video: Fusion West: Fusion: East
Extras: Exclusive Ukulele Lessons by Brittni Paiva
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: ****

A documentary titled, Brittni Paivea – Living Ukulele has been making the rounds at film festivals. The subject is a twenty-three year old prodigy who performs a wide variety of musical styles on the four string instrument. The film details the musical origins of Paiva, and her Hawaiian cultural roots. Even at fourteen, it is apparent that she is peerless as she wins a prestigious Hawaiian ukulele contest, performing “Malaguena” with Hawaiian riffs and a touch of “William Tell Overture”. Her fellow musicians are supportive and consider her an equal. Among the discussions of musical theory and collaboration are some extraordinary performances. She is capable of mastering unique time signatures and rhythms. A mesmerizing version of the jazz standard, “Take Five” demonstrates her uncanny technique, even in 5/4 time. She has a sense of jazz phrasing and delivers this on a couple of original pieces. Paiva plays like an accomplished six-string guitarist.
Despite the celebrity status, Paiva comes off as a down to earth, fun loving individual. She takes the film crew to the Kaloha Ukulele (her official sponsor) factory where she does a duet on “Come Back To Sorrento”, and talks about her new hobby, driving “hot” cars. Next it’s onto Waikiki to take a surfing lesson with her uncle, and then judging a ukulele contest. Here she performs a version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”. She plays at malls, hotels, festivals, always with a sincere attitude. When you think that she is impressive, the bar gets raised again. Saxophonist Tom Scott (who is planning to produce her next album) invites her to join his combo. The ensuing rendition of “Watermelon Man” is funky and spirited. She contributes a barrage of jazzy chords and notation that is amazing. Scott discusses the general misconception about ukuleles (“…It’s not the thing Tiny Tim played…”) that most people entertain. The travelogue (which includes striking night shots of a lava flows) occasionally deadens the pace of the movie, but the musical interludes revive it.
Brittani Paiva – Living Ukelele was an official selection to the 17th Temecula International Film Festival and the MauiFEST Hawai’I 2012 Film Festivals. Additionally the film won at the 2011 Hana, Molokai and Lana’i Film Festivals.
—Robbie Gerson

Related Reviews