Roy Sakuma Prod. (RSCD 1021)
2009 Hawai‘i Music Awards Nominee:
(Best Instrumental of the Year)
2009 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards Nominee:
(Instrumental of the Year)
The Honolulu Advertiser
Friday December 26, 2008
Review By Wayne Harada
Genre: 'Ukulele instrumentals.
Distinguishing notes: Herb Ohta Sr., known the world over as Ohta-san, is perhaps the one responsible for demonstrating that the trusty party-jam instrument, the 'ukulele, was a solo instrument worthy of front-and-center spotlight attention. His iconic "Song for Anna," with 1973 roots, has been newly recorded by producer Roy Sakuma (who plays the harmony part on uke), ramping up the soaring and sensual appeal of the Andre Popp composition expressly written for Ohta.
Result: It's timeless and reflective, with a music-box simplicity, and "Song for Anna" is back with new flair, awaiting applause by a new generation of fans. Lifelong fans can join the line, too.
Ohta-san is a pioneer, bringing his style to an expansive repertoire not commonly attuned to the four-stringed instrument. Consider "America the Beautiful," with exquisite strumming and plucking and an arrangement that re-establishes the normally patriotic anthem ... with a measure of subtle romance.
The musical journey here is international — "Samba De Orfeu," "Sabor A Mi," "Manha De Carnaval" — cradled with Ohta's aura of Latino tempos and moods. It's nocturnal stuff, mainly, for cuddling and schmoozing. A couple of Ohta newbies dot the landscape, too. And Pierre Grill's arrangements are smooth and seductive.
Stellar musicians are part of the serenades: Nando Suan, guitar; Dean Taba, bass; and Sakuma on uke.
Our take: Ohta-san still is ichi-ban (No. 1) and this CD should relaunch his career.
The Star Bulletin
Friday June 12, 2009
Review By John Berger