Good Albums for New Ukers?

Rather than "start with Jake" (never bad advice), I'd back it up and say, "Start with Pure Heart", the band which brought him his first fame. (He still plays regularly with them, including next at the Hana Hou Festival on September 8.) Because I came in to ukulele so late (2020) when Jake was already so huge that it has taken me a while to reckon with how absolutely massive an impact Pure Heart had even before then.

Talking to guys like Ukulele Underground founder Aldrine Guerrero who'd already taught themselves every Pure Heart song and every Jake solo on those records long before Jake went solo, it would be overstating to compare Jake to McCartney vis a vis Pure Heart's The Beatles...but you know what, for kids in Hawaii in the 90s, maybe not. So definitely add Pure Heart to your list. :)

In fact, Aldrine spoke about Pure Heart at length in a recent podcast that I highly recommend to any fan of ukuleles in general and UU in particular. His superhero origin story, if you will, has everything to do with a local TV performance by Pure Heart on a show called Hot Hawaiian Nights. This episode isn't necessarily the peak hilarity of a typical outing, bu he really digs deep into the specifics of Jake's influence as a member of that band, loooong before he went solo. Fantastic stuff that I've already listened to a couple of times.


Speaking of Aldrine, I'm a huge fan of his records. I think my favorite might be Suite 409 (an Amazon link because I'm done with Spotify, me :)...but all of his stuff is definitely on Spotify -- I checked that much anyway). Like most of his records, it's a mix of fiery, flamenco-flavored instrumentals, and sweet, Jawaiian-flavored pop, so it takes at least two tracks to tell the tale.

Bandito Tyler is the former, and I was tickled to discover that it's available as a lesson in the Ukulele Underground song library! So that's the video I'll share.



And I just plain love CMJ. Definitely one of his greatest hits, imo.




My other favorite album of his is Acoustic Robot Love Songs. A fiery Flamenco track:



And an absolute charmer that he wrote after proposing to his girl onstage at a uke festival in Rome (trivia note: Kanile'a co-founder and Master Luthier Joe Souza held the camera to record the event!), and she said yes. Man, I love this song!




That's enough for now, but I could go on for a lot longer. I think that folks are sleeping on him. He's as ferocious as anybody out there when he lights it up, but he also sings like an angel. His own songs are admittedly gentler than the full breadth of his vocal range, but as you spend time around the UU song library, I swear that most of you will agree that there's not a better singing ukulele player out there right now. And even if you don't agree that he's THE best, he's absolutely in the convo.

Continuing down the UU rabbit hole, our own @4stringboy has been very upfront that he learned how to play ukulele by joining Ukulele Underground and watching Aldrine's videos at UU+ (the paid training portion of the festivities here). And man o man, his new album is a STUNNER. A couple of the songs are multi-instrumental takes on his fabulous Fingerstyle Fursday series, but this is the all-uke track on the album, complete with a lovely video shot around his home in Copenhagen. The album drops on September 29, and I will definitely be there.




Hey, another UU-er for you! @Brittni Paiva has been here since 2009, and just dropped a new single off HER upcoming record. All Brittni records are good ones, and she's levelling up in a serious, serious way right now. I'm a deeply emotional guy (occassionally to the point of imbalance, not shocking for a bipolar schizophrenic dude living on the spectrum), and I'm looking for that from music more often than not. Brittni has been very open talking about her struggles with mental health and sobriety over the past couple of years, and I feel like her openness there is now reflecting in her new music. She mentions this on a thread that @Joyful Uke started to draw attention to the track I'm dropping here, and I'm sending her every good wish in the world while the beads of sweat are breaking out on my forehead waiting on the rest of the album. :ROFLMAO:




I suppose there's some pretty good ukulele records made by people who aren't members or founders of Ukulele Underground :ROFLMAO: but I wouldn't want anyone here to miss what's happening closer to home!
 
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You’ve inspired me to be the clown who constantly says New Uke instead of New York
 
I know Kalei has been mentioned but I have to show my support for him as he is the person who inspires me the most. I know this is old now (and as Ailevan said, you can check out the weekly TUS podcasts for newer material) but Mach 4 is simply awesome:


Kalei is amazing -- an inspiration for sure!
 
Hey, another UU-er for you! @Brittni Paiva has been here since 2009, and just dropped a new single off HER upcoming record. All Brittni records are good ones, and she's levelling up in a serious, serious way right now. I'm a deeply emotional guy (occassionally to the point of imbalance, not shocking for a bipolar schizophrenic dude living on the spectrum), and I'm looking for that from music more often than not. Brittni has been very open talking about her struggles with mental health and sobriety over the past couple of years, and I feel like her openness there is now reflecting in her new music. She mentions this on a thread that @Joyful Uke started to draw attention to the track I'm dropping here, and I'm sending her every good wish in the world while the beads of sweat are breaking out on my forehead waiting on the rest of the album. :ROFLMAO:


I appreciate this so much, thank you. 🥹
A little further explanation of my openness...
Within the past year, I've been diagnosed with ASD and ADHD. Finally having an answer as to why I am the way that I am, and finally having a direction toward figuring out who I am as a person and what my identity is in this world has helped my creativity grow tremendously in a way that I never expected. Now that I know these things, I can unmask and become my true self, both personally and musically.
 
An artist not mentioned yet is Neal Chin. His albums ‘Ukulele Paintings and The Spotless Mind are both terrific, especially if you like jazz standards with a modern slant.
 
Two that I like are ohta san soul time in Hawaii and the Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band (vols 1 and 2). The uke is not the featured player in the Gabby records, but it's in there and they're pretty cool. Check out Abe Lagrimas Jr on Bandcamp too. He's a great player who leans to jazz.
 
If you enjoy jazz standards, Gerald Ross's Absolute Uke and Swing Ukulele are both excellent. For a taste of classical music for the ukulele, check out albums by Samantha "Sam" Muir. New Works for Classical Ukulele and The Beauty of Uke are highly recommended.
 
Finally having an answer as to why I am the way that I am, and finally having a direction toward figuring out who I am as a person and what my identity is in this world has helped my creativity grow tremendously in a way that I never expected.

Brittni, I relate to this SO MUCH! My life had been spinning farther and farther out of control, nothing making any sense at all, until I received my diagnosis of bipolarity, schizophrenia, and on the spectrum. I was 45 by the time I started to get the help I wished I'd had 35 years earlier, but better late than TOO late...which I feel like was closing in on me fast.

You know, you've also talked about gluten sensitivity -- me too! I'm full-on celiac, which was another thing that took way too many years for me to figure out. And guess what? Google gluten and your favorite mental conditions -- depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety. It'll take two seconds to see that IT'S ALL THERE. Tons and tons of research, documented out the wazoo. It's staggering. Nobody has any idea about cause and/or effect (and no ethical way to get much closer to solving it), but the correlation is as rock solid as anything that medical research has to offer. You can't get better if you're eating stuff that's making you worse.

Counseling, medication, and the right food had been helping me for a very long time, but the pandemic (and multiple deaths in my family from it, and concern for my wife's already diminished lung capacity and immune system) really threw me for a loop, when a friend suggested I try adding the ukulele to my therapeutic regime. It's been three years now, and I gotta say, it's made the biggest difference for me since getting medicated! Absolutely huge.

I'm glad that you're figuring all of this out now rather than taking another 15 years like I did, and I'm grateful that we're going to have you and your music around for many years to come! ☺️
 
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Always too kind @TimWilson 😘 I’m eagerly awaiting release day, and I’ll be including all 11 tracks without backing so you can hear pure ukulele if you prefer 😇

Ah, Sammy, you glittering sparkly man, I'm barely kind enough. :ROFLMAO: This is somehow the first I'm hearing of your offering a Naked version of these tracks, making it all the more essential a purchase! Thanks so much, lad! I didn't think it was possible, but I'm somehow even MORE tingly in anticipation!!!
 
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Listening to the latest edition of the Ukulele Underground podcast, Aldrine Guerrero followed up an observation he'd made in the podcast the week before when asked for the top 3 non-Jake, non-James ukulele players from the standpoint of tone. It's a very interesting conversation that covers a lot of ground that you might not expect, and it's hard to argue with the top 2 choices: Herb Ohta (Ohta-San) and Herb Ohta, Jr. Aldrine admitted that #3 was tough, but he picked Imua Garza.

So this time, he got specific about Imua's 2003 album Dreamspeaking. This thing is INSANE. It's not just one of the best ukulele records I've come across in ages -- it's just one of the best instrumental jazz-ish records I've come across in ages. (I know that @4stringboy agrees with me and Aldrine on this, and he's created one of the others!)

The whole album is otherwise out-of-print, other than the label posting official videos you can find in a YT playlist here...but check out this track, and you'll definitely be checking out the rest. :)

 
Here's a few I don't think have been listed:

Led Kaapana Jus' Press Vol. 2

Del Rey & Matt Weiner At The Ukeshack #1 Ukulele and Bass Duets

Papa Lemon Nash New Orleans Ukulele Maestro & Tent Show Troubadour the 1959-61 Oster & Allen Recordings
The Papa Lemon Nash album is EPIC.
 
Listening to the latest edition of the Ukulele Underground podcast, Aldrine Guerrero followed up an observation he'd made in the podcast the week before when asked for the top 3 non-Jake, non-James ukulele players from the standpoint of tone. It's a very interesting conversation that covers a lot of ground that you might not expect, and it's hard to argue with the top 2 choices: Herb Ohta (Ohta-San) and Herb Ohta, Jr. Aldrine admitted that #3 was tough, but he picked Imua Garza.

So this time, he got specific about Imua's 2003 album Dreamspeaking. This thing is INSANE. It's not just one of the best ukulele records I've come across in ages -- it's just one of the best instrumental jazz-ish records I've come across in ages. (I know that @4stringboy agrees with me and Aldrine on this, and he's created one of the others!)

The whole album is otherwise out-of-print, other than the label posting official videos you can find in a YT playlist here...but check out this track, and you'll definitely be checking out the rest. :)


Imua Garza Dreamspeaking, you can get the mp3 on Amazon.
 
Imua Garza Dreamspeaking, you can get the mp3 on Amazon.
Also on iTunes, or if you want better quality then it's available in a range of lossless formats on the Qobuz download store. Had a listen to the preview earlier and I'll definitely be picking this one up.
 
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