"Spotlight" By Ohta-San

OHTA-SAN
“Spotlight”
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)

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$14.00

The Honolulu Advertiser
Friday December 26, 2008

Review By Wayne Harada

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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

Island Mele
Review By John Berger

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In the chronology of ukulele virtuosos, the list begins with Ernest Kaai, continues with the Ukulele Rascals (Eddie Kamae and Shoi Ikemi) and then reaches Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta.
Kaai and the Ukulele Rascals are easy to overlook; Kaai died more than 40 years ago, and the Ukulele Rascals never recorded. Ohta-san, on the other hand, has been recording consistently for more than 40 years and is easily the world's most prolific ukulele recording artist.
Although everything Ohta-san records is of importance to his fans, the single most noteworthy cut here is his new recording of "Song for Anna," which he originally recorded in 1973. It's always interesting to see what artists will do when they revisit their work, and Ohta-san makes the return journey with Roy Sakuma, his old-time student and protege, playing in counterpoint.
Sakuma, who co-produced the album with his wife, Kathy, keeps things simple and uncluttered. Dean Taba plays bass on two selections; Nando Suan plays guitar on most of the others.
Ohta-san's command of the ukulele creates such beautiful music that using any additional musicians would be counterproductive.