UkePrints – Pure Heart – Tokada

Welcome back to UkePrints! I am pleased and excited to bring you more ‘ukulele tracks and all the wonderful musicians who make it possible. Before we jump into our first post of the year I would like to mention that UkePrints will now be running twice a month on the first and third Monday. We are trying a few new things and I wanted to ensure that you receive quality posts. So without further ado, I bring you Pure Heart!

19990524 - Pure Heart. Press release photo.
L-R: Lopaka Colón, Jon Yamasato, & Jake Shimabukuro

Pure Heart comprises of Jon Yamasato, Lopaka Colón, and Jake Shimabukuro. Originally started in the late 90’s, the trio went to release their first self-titled album and won four Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards including Album of the Year and Favorite Entertainer of the Year. Extensive gigging brought the group notoriety in Hawai’i for Yamasato’s smooth vocals, Colón’s elaborate percussion and birdcalls (Augie Colón’s son after all!), and Shimabukuro’s virtuosic playing. A follow-up album, Pure Heart 2 won them another Hoku award before they disbanded later the following year. Their songs are still in rotation throughout Hawai’i and ‘ukulele players to this day still learn many of their songs as a kind of milestone in their playing. The group in 2015 reunited for a few reunion shows and filmed this HiSessions episode.

19990524 FTR HOKU 4
1998 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards PC: Honolulu Star Bulletin


A standard in the ‘ukulele world today is the final track off of their Pure Heart 2 album titled Tokada. Inspired by Beethoven’s Toccata in Dm, Shimabukuro composed this tribute to match the stylings of the ‘ukulele. The songs start with a loud crash as the band plays

Pure Heart 2

hits over the first theme of the song (0:06, 0.42, etc). The rush of excitement launches into nice padded chords by Shimabukuro as he plays with some unique voices of Dm, mingling with a ninth, minor 7th, minor 6th, etc (0:18,0:54, etc). The contrast is the perfect set up for the Toccatta inspired tremolo run up the neck and the main theme of the song. Shimabukro mounts his middle and ring finger on his ‘ukulele and pivots at his knuckle, keeping his thumb straight like a plectrum. Climbing up a Dm scale four notes at a time (count 1-2-3-1), Shimabukuro hits his high Bb before descending down the neck (0:28). He plays the theme twice with the first round going back up to a high D after descending (0:32) and the second time climbing down to his low D (0:38). They go back to and repeat the hits and the main theme again before launching into the bridge. Following the chord changes and the same rhythm from the main theme, he climbs up the neck again only breaking the rhythm as he descends and resolves the section (1:31). He throws in some pull-offs for variation as he repeats the section again (1:44, 1:46). They bring the volume down as Shimabukuro decends down the neck and as a group they crecendo as he acends back up to his high D (1:53). For a brief moment they pause as Colón does a quick pick up to launch into the padded chords again. They take the main theme and hits again before they end the song in a big crescendo as Shimabukuro climbs up the neck one last time rolling on dimished chords (2:42) and landing on a tasteful DmMaj7Add9 (2:51).

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.


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