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Gene Argel

Funky groove master.

July 10, 2014
Louise Lambert , Maui Weekly

Monday is jazz night at the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea. Gene Argel will sing and play piano there with bassist Marcus Johnson on Aug 14.

Gene plays originals, and his own versions of standards and contemporary songs. This funky groove master's creativity abounds, from his early in?uence, jazz pianist Horace Silver (who just passed away in June), to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. From these masters and from pianist/teacher Jerome Gray, Gene took on a 21st century modern style-an intervalic approach.

Gene came to Maui from Washington state, and played at Blackie's Bar-the famous Lahaina jazz club-four or ?ve nights a week, making his hands and ?ngers fast, but not necessarily sounding beautiful. Now backing off from that form, he sings to himself as he plays, making sure the music is pleasing, playing more gently and with less attack.

"If you want to express yourself in an amazing way, it's piano," said Gene.

Gene loves to play the B3 Hammond organ, but he never considered the big, loud, funky, electric thing to be a real instrument. A few months ago, Gene played a B3 at Charley's Restaurant & Saloon in Pa'ia with Joe Caro and legendary drummer Steve Gadd. He often plays at the Wailuku Coffee Company with Michael Buono on drums, guitarist Sam Ahia, bassist Doug White, pianist/guitarist Shiro Mori and Henry Arroyo on trombone.

Studying and playing Afro-Cuban percussion daily with his son, Shea, Gene is constantly working on his grooves. They accompany Lasensua and Mardi Swatek's Makawao dance classes. Talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Shea gigs at the "Feast at Lele, the Lu'au Show."

Gene writes and records with his student, Josh Hearl. Early this year, Gene, Shea and Josh did a special event called "Into the Forest" at the MACC, inspired by Neida Bangerter, including Marcus and his daughter, Mickey on marimbas; percussionists Larry Fitzpatrick, Hector Serano and Berto; violinist Andrea Walls; cellist Michelle Romero-Ancheta; vocalist Leighanna Edwards Locke; and Gene's cousin, Phillip, danced.

Gene intends to get a CD out soon, recorded with his A-team musical cohorts-Cornish College of Arts Professors Mark Ivester on drums and bassist Chuck Deardorf, along with Jay Thomas on trumpet and tenor sax.

Gene said that the high point of his career-other than playing with Steve Gadd, is, "If I'm playing good, that's a high point for me."

He is thankful to Luana, his "patient and brilliant wife, who knows the lyrics to any song you can think of," for her loving support.

"Thank you, Maui Swing Queen Louise," he concluded.

A freelance writer, jazz vocalist and pianist, Louise Lambert performs at Three's Bar & Grill on Friday nights. She teaches voice, piano and "How to Sing and Play in a Band" workshops for all ages, and provides world-class musical entertainment for special events. Contact her at, or (808) 205-3971.



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