To say that September brought extraordinary opportunities to my door would understate the fact that it was probably the busiest, craziest, most serendipitous and exhausting month in my life thus far, passing in what feels like a single day.
September in Honolulu
One of the biggest opportunities to strike me in September is a new career shooting video five days a week, often working 12 hour days—which goes to show why I’ve had little time to update Aloha Got Soul. I did, however, afford the unique opportunity to co-host a special performance with Amalia of Cherries Records at Motown On Mondays Honolulu, plus spin alongside Jah Gumby at his new all-vinyl Rub-A-Dub reggae series at thirtyninehotel.
Amalia even made it out to Jah Gumby’s event that Thursday night, the night before I had to catch a 7am flight to Hilo. We danced and laughed and enjoyed conversations on every subject (ancient Hawaiian spirits, sharks, surfing, relationships… you name it) until closing time, which wound us on the streets of Chinatown at 2am with Oliver, Amalia and I “triple filming” each other. Of course, I made my flight later that morning—otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post.
One of the biggest blessings in September has to have been a four-day weekend I (luckily) got. Even my boss said he’s never had four days off in a row. (Hello, serendipity). So, with the intention to hunt for records and relax after shooting video eight days straight, I flew to the Big Island. On my first day there, I found this:
Justin Thyme: A Life In A Day
My first impression from the cover: ambient music. I didn’t realize it was recorded in Hawaii until I looked at the liner notes and saw in bold lettering: RECORDED LIVE! at Orvis Auditorium at University of Hawaii. I promptly texted a few friends to see if they knew anything about Justin Thyme, but they hadn’t heard of it before.
My next impression after doing a few searches online? Jazz fusion funk. Not only is Justin Thyme A Life In A Day listed on Collectors Frenzy a few times, turns out Gary Washburn, the man behind the band (Justin isn’t an actual person), decided to reissue the LP in 2011 on all major online outlets and CD.
I didn’t have a turntable during my trip, so I went straight to Spotify to see what they had. And there it was, my anticipation satiated with amazing tracks like this one:
The story behind A Life In A Day
Gary revisited A Life In A Day decades from its original release date in 1979 after a Japanese collector contacted him in hopes of purchasing all of his remaining vinyl stock. (!) Surprised by this out-of-the-blue inquiry, Gary and his brother, who released the live album under his label EmKay in Hollywood, California, reissued A Life In A Day. Here’s a lengthy excerpt from the Hamakua Times back in early 2011:
This unique Jazz-Fusion album is a work composed by the noted Hawaiian based composer/musician/educator, Gary Washburn. “I wrote “ A Life In A Day” as a project to fulfill a National Endowment of The Arts Grant that was awarded me, and performed it to fulfill a State Foundation Grant that was also awarded me.
I composed the music in Hilo specifically for the individuals who performed the music, (much in the same manner that Duke Ellington composed for his band). It is a conceptual album which depicts cycles of life from conception and formulation through self-realization and fulfillment, and on to death which in turn presents rebirth and evolution”, states Washburn.
“We, (Justin Thyme), did a series of concerts all over the island, and they were recorded initially on a 4 track tape machine. I played it for my brother, Kent Washburn, and he agreed to put it out on his indie label, EmKay Records. The album was mixed and pressed, but the distribution company that he was with folded and the album really never made it to the public.
The album then kind of just laid around with nothing happening until a gentleman from Japan, Yusuke Ogawa, brought it back to our attention by wanting to purchase all of the remaining vinyl albums that we had. After that type of interest, Kent re-listened to the album, (which he hadn’t heard for many, many years), and realized that it was a very serious Jazz Fusion offering for those type of enthusiasts, and felt that it should be re-released for todays market.”
The musical styles used by Washburn to present this unique conceptual depiction include traditional and contemporary jazz, funk, pop, and in some passages classical.
“The recording and mixing is excellent, and the performance of Justin Thyme is very tight and completely filled with passion,” stated Kent. “I just was not properly focused when I initially released it. I was a budding record producer, and was so focused on finding “hits”, that I really didn’t see the musical artistry that was housed in this work. Well times have changed, I have slowed down, I pay more attention to the “art” instead of the “hit value”, and I am just thrilled to have the opportunity to re-release this Album on Milan Records.
I couldn’t have asked to unearth this double LP at a more opportune time. Everything in my life changed in September, and Justin Thyme’s A Life In A Day arrived at the right moment to reward me for a long and exhausting month of hard work—quickly becoming one of my favorite Hawaiian finds of the year.