Remembering a would-be queen, the father of a princess, and an underappreciated jazz icon

Remembering Hawaii

November 1st marks the anniversary of two births and one death of three notable figures in Hawaii’s history.

Princess Victoria Kamamalu.

In 1838, Princess Victoria Kamamalu was born. She was the granddaughter of King Kamehameha the Great and daughter of Queen Ka’ahumanu. She would have become queen had she lived long enough; she died at the age of 27 due to an unknown illness. She did, however, ascend to Kuhina Nui at the age of 17; Kuhina Nui a high-level position comparable to prime minister. Since she had no children and did not write a will before she died, her vast land inheritance ended up going to to Bernice Pauahi Bishop, where it eventually became part of Kamehameha Schools.

Archibald Cleghorn and his daughter, Princess Ka’iulani

On November 1st, 1910, Archibald Cleghorn died of a heart attack two weeks shy of his 75th birthday. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1835, he went to Honolulu with his father when he was 16, where he remained after his father’s death. He became a citizen of the Kingdom of Hawaii and married into the royal family in 1870; he married Princess Likelike, sister of David Kalakaua, who would become king four years later. A year after Kalakaua became king, Cleghorn’s daughter Princess Victoria Ka’iulani was born. Cleghorn also served as the Royal Governor of Oahu, and was a trustee of The Queen’s Medical Center.

Album cover for Baltazar’s 1992 classic Back In Action

On November 1st, 1929, jazz saxophonist Gabe Baltazar Jr. was born in Hilo. His mother was born on a sugarcane plantation and his father immigrated from the Philippines to work as a musician. Baltazar took after his father and started playing music when he was 11. After graduating from McKinley High School, he studied music at the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Maryland, part of Johns Hopkins University. His studies were interrupted when he was drafted in the Korean War.

After four years in the military, he moved back to Hawaii and payed with the Royal Hawaiian Band before leaving again for Los Angeles, where he played alto sax in the jazz-famous Stan Kenton Orchestra. While living in LA, he was a musician in TV orchestras for The Pat Boone Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, among others.

He moved back to Hawaii in 1969 and resumed playing with the Royal Hawaiian Band. He played sax and flute in the Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii concert, during which he had a flute solo. He released two albums in 1992, Birdology and Back in Action, both of which were critically acclaimed. Jazz critic Scott Yanow wrote that Baltazar was “one of the last great graduates from the Stan Kenton Orchestra, but because he lives in Hawaii, he is greatly underrated.”

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