This week we are visited by the ‘Ukulele Professor, Byron Yasui. Dr. Yasui was part of the music theory/composition faculty at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa since 1972 until retiring in 2010 where he transitioned to professor emeritus. Over his career Dr. Yasui has also remained active as a instrumentalist as a freelance jazz bassist, part time bassist and utility string player with the Honolulu Symphony, a classical guitar duo partner with Brazilian virtuoso Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and of course a concert ‘ukulele soloist. Many ‘ukulele players know Byron as one of the 4 ‘ukulele virtuosos featured on the Art of the Solo ‘Ukulele CD alongside Gordon Mark, Benny Chong, and Jake Shimabukuro in the early 2000’s. Today Byron can be found playing bass with Benny Chong at various jazz venues on ‘Oahu.
Today we listen to Dr. Yasui playing a medley of various marches from Hilo March to Stars and Stripes Forever. Using a solid and defined double strum, Byron begins the medley by emulating the roll of the snare drum by muting his strings while he strums. His various right hand techniques are some of the most impressive amongst ‘ukulele players not only to watch but to listen to. They perfectly compliment the songs and also provides a good example of using technique tastefully. This does not exclude his left hand technique as he incorporates moveable chords to not only get from one position of the neck to another but as a great way to slur chords together. You also got to love the harmonics in middle of the song too!
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.