This week we take a listen of prolific ‘ukulele arranger and composer, Herb Ohta Jr. Known to many as Jr., Herb has one of the larger ‘ukulele discographies with credits to over 50 recordings. Since his debut, Herb Ohta Jr. has two Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards for ʻUkulele Nahenahe and Pure ‘Ukulele and eight other Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award nominations. Following in the footsteps of his father Ohta-San, Herb has developed a style that is uniquely his own.
Here we listen to Herb Ohta Jr. playing the hapa haole standard, Sophisticated Hula at George Kahumoku’s Slack Key Show. With his signature low G ‘ukulele and his thumb pick, it is easy to spot Herb’s tone. His control of volume and tasteful embellishment makes his version of Sophisticated Hula easy to listen to yet still interesting to the ear. Besides the precision on his left hand, you can see the control he has with his right; never overpowering and a nice even tone when moving across the strings.
On a personal note: I have taken classes and seen Jr. play numerous amounts of time on Maui and Oahu. One of the things I have noticed is that Jr. never misses a note! His playing is amongst some of the cleanest and tasteful ‘ukulele playing.
Herb Ohta Jr. and Bryan Tolentino have a new album called ‘Ukulele Friends. What a treat to have these two legends make an album together! Also they do another version of Gm Fleas featuring Jake Shimabukuro which in my books makes ‘ukulele history.
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.