This week we visit the legendary ‘ukulele player and teacher Gordon Mark. Gordon Mark has time and time again reigned as an icon to aspire to for both players and teachers alike. Gordon’s repertoire spans from Rachmaninoff to the Hawaiian classics. As a master composer for the ‘ukulele he has composed countless tunes that both new and old players study.
Here we listen to Gordon Mark joined by Papa KoAloha (Alvin Okami) on vocals on the classic Henri Mancini tune, The Days of Wine and Roses. Though Gordon Mark is excellent as a solo musician, he is also a great accompanist as well. Here he takes a colorful intro, traveling up and down the neck with ornate chords to help set the mood of the song. At this point he has cultivated a beautiful back drop to Okami’s voice and very tastefully adds color and texture without getting in the way of the vocals. His playing also gives an overall direction and movement to the song (which is very important, especially in an intimate setting such as this one).
On a personal note: I remember meeting Gordon Mark when I was younger with just about 2 year of ‘ukulele playing under my belt. He was on the Art of the Solo ‘Ukulele tour along side Benny Chong, Byron Yasui, and Jake Shimabukuro. After the concert my brother and I hung around with our ‘ukuleles and got to briefly talk with him. Ever the teacher, he showed us a couple of things, gave us a copy of one of his method books and signed it! It is a great book and if you can find a copy of it. . . . hold on to it because they’re hard to find!
Hear more of Gordon Mark on Alvin Okami’s album Just Uke and Me. Ohta-san is also on this album so it’s one you don’t want to miss!
UkePrints is a curated playlist of some essential ukulele tracks that all ukulele player should listen to. These songs have left a legacy for future players and in essence, sound impressions of the ‘ukulele or what I like to call them: UkePrints.