Mixed-Up Music Magic: The Many Styles of Hawaii's Jazz-Fusion Group

Hawaii's jazz-funk-fusion pioneers of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Music Magic, released two albums to their name. They gigged to sold out crowds in Honolulu after their single, "One Man Lady", hit the scene.

Music Magic reunion: September 30th – October 1st, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii!

Jump to the Aloha Got Soul music mix
Aloha Got Soul: Music Magic, Hawaii L-R: Jay Molina, Fred Schreuders, Darryl Blouin, Al Pascua.
Stylistically, the band's sound changed drastically from their self-titled debut to their sophomore release, One Man Lady.

Each LP is a far cry from the other, and I've always wondered why.

The debut album is loaded with fusion jazz stylings: breaks in rhythm, roaming saxophone solos, blistering synthesizer leads. It's an earful of an album not immediately accessible to the average listener. On Music Magic (1979), a few tunes let you catch your breath. "Ray Alan" is a melodic jam dedicated to the son of pianist/singer Al Pascua. (By the way, Ray Alan is the hip hop producer Ray Ray Intl). And "Daydreams" kicks back with smooth, pop sounds of trombonist Ira Nepus. Music Magic also features special guests Pete Hernandez (percussion) and Mark Miller (sax & flute). One Man Lady (1982) launches the band into a disco-fied R&B funk sphere. Each track, from "Let's Jam" to "Let's Get It Together", is catchy, uptempo, and easy to enjoy. You can nod your head without worrying the beat will change in the spirit of fusion jazz. One hint at such a stark change in musical style comes from Al Pascua's bio:
Al started his career in Hawaii at the age of 15, playing in the local nightclubs. In the late 70’s Al and Jay Molina started the band Music Magic, whose influences were Earth Wind & Fire, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea, to name a few. They caught on very quick and opened up for acts such as the Average White Band, Chaka Khan and Bob James. With originals in tow Music Magic released their first album which got them a “Hoku” nomination. Their number 1 single “One Man Lady” (title of their second album) created a “buzz” that had them playing to sold out crowds. It seemed the band hit its stride, but due to creative differences Music Magic went their separate ways.
Perhaps they were constantly searching for the 'right' sound, a unifying style that satisfied each members' musical pursuits. Music journalist John Berger gave us another hint in 2009, when he wrote:
If the Hoku Awards had a Jazz Album category in place back then, the quartet—Pascua, Jay Molina, Fred Schreuders and Darryl Blouin—could easily have won the category with "One Man Lady" in 1982. From that high point, time passed, pop market music tastes changed and the quartet dispersed to pursue individual projects.
It's hard to tell why, but I'm hoping to learn the answer this month when Music Magic reunites in Honolulu at the Jazz Minds Café, September 29, 30, and October 1, 2011. That's right, a Hawaiian jazz-fusion disco-funk reunion courtesy of Al Pascua (piano, vocals), Jay Molina (bass, vocals), Fred Screuders (guitar, vocals), and Darryl Blouin (drums)! Plus special guests Peter Factora, Rock Hendricks, and Fred Li. But before Music Magic's reunion goes down—and as I continue to wonder why the band went from fusion-flavored jazz group to R&B-loving funksters—I'll leave you with this 16-minute mix of songs from their two albums, Music Magic and One Man Lady. Enjoy! Check back for concert footage following the reunion show, happening September 29 - 30 and October 1, 2011. Learn more and purchase discounted tickets here.

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