This week we are visited from the legendary ‘ukulele virtuoso and teacher James Hill. James Hill hails from Canada as a former member of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble. After finishing his Bachelor in Music, James Hill cowrote an ‘ukulele method book called Ukulele in the Classroom. Since then he has released 7 albums with many of arrangements sought after by young aspiring ‘ukulele players such as his percussive all-in-one version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean or even his version of the Super Mario Bros Theme. His innovative yet tasteful style is the reason why The Honolulu Star-Bulletin calls James Hill a “rare peer” of Hawai’i’s premier ‘ukulele players.
Today we listen to track Assam/Like a Feather from the album Man with a Love Song. Here James Hill plays a duet with cellist Anne Janelle on the web/TV show HiSessions. Hill has his ‘ukulele tuned a step up (ADF#B) in the tradition of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble and uses a mixture of techniques such the banjo clawhammer to create movement to the melody. As you can see Hill also adds some percussive tapping with his feet and a wooden board placed on the ground. Listen to how they create a sonically rich piece as they build and release tension, keeping the listener tappin’ toes at the edge of their seat.
I find musicians like James Hill to be refreshing with his original ideas and music. As they say. . . original music is the cat’s meow!
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.