Bryan Tolentino, Herb Ohta Jr., Pomaika’i Lyman, and Halehaku Seabury bring their special ‘ukulele kanikapila to the Shannon Center.
Hearing these masters together on the same stage, you will get to experience the blending of their unique personalities and playing styles into a joyous ‘ukulele concert filled with fun, virtuosity, and most importantly, aloha.
‘Ukulele artist Bryan Tolentino has been known, for the past thirty-eight years, as an accompanist who performed and continues to perform, locally and abroad with some of Hawaiʻi’s most well known and accomplished Hawaiian music artists.
Bryan’s recorded on over fifty CD’s for other artists as well as compilations adding his unique “fairy dusting”, as he calls it. He says, “You must feel Hawaiian Music”—evident in his award winning recordings featured on Nā Hōkū Hanohano and Grammy nominated CD’s which have also garnered many awards. He blends all that he’s learned, as an accompanist, into his own unique sound.
Bryan has performed and recorded with notable Hawaiian entertainers such as: Raiatea Helm, Jake Shimabukuro, Herb Ohta, Jr., Halehaku Seabury, Aunty Genoa Keawe, Pomaika‘i Lyman, Karen Keawehawai‘i, Ku‘uipo Kumukahi, Marlene Sai, Jerry Santos and Olomana, Nathan Aweau, O’Brian Eselu, Frank Hewett, Byron Yasui, Benny Chong, Kalei Gamiao, ‘Elua Kane, Sonny Lim, Keoki Kahumoku, Owana Salazar, Weldon Kekauoha, Natalie Ai and ‘Iolani Kamau‘u, Napua Greig, Kuana Torres Kahele, Aaron Salā, The Side Order Band – Bryan Tolentino, Del Beazley, Chris Kamaka and Asa Young, Keao Costa, and Blaine Kamalani Kia.
Bryan also worked with award winning hula hālau, engineers and producers. The noted halau includes: Na Wai ‘Eha O Puna, Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi, Hālau Maoli Pua, Ka Pā Hula O Kauanoe O Wa‘ahila, Keali‘ika’apunihonua Ke‘ena A‘o Hula, Hālau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea and Kuhai Hālau O Kawaikapuokalani Pa Olapa Kahiko. Engineers and producers: Dave Tucciarone, Milan Bertosa, Steve Kramer, Gaylord Holomalia, Flip McDiarmid, Shawn Pimental, Kip and Max Ebersbach are among the best in the music business.
In May 2005, Bryan opened another musical chapter by releasing his solo CD “Ka ‘Ukulele Lele” that was a Nā Hōkū Hanohano finalist for Instrumental Album of the year. Ten years later in April 2015, he released a duet CD, “Ukulele Friends”, with Herb Ohta Jr. that received a Nā Hōkū Hanohano award for 2016 ‘Ukulele Album of the Year. In the Summer of 2016, he expanded his role by joining the Performing Arts Academy at Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama campus, educating young adults interested in learning and performing the ‘ukulele. In December 2017, he released his second CD, “Ukulele Friends: The Sequel”, with Herb Ohta Jr. which also received the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award for 2018 ‘Ukulele Album of the Year.
He continues to travel locally, nationally and internationally, sharing his love for the ‘ukulele through performances and workshops.
Herb Ohta Jr.’s interest in music was very evident at an early age. Herb’s grandmother taught him his first song on the ‘ukulele at the age of three. The song was “Happy Birthday.” His father, Ohta-San started his early instruction on the ‘ukulele and Herb continued to study music playing the viola in high school. Herb was also a member of The Honolulu Boys Choir, The Honolulu Children’s Opera Chorus, and The University High School Select Choir.
Herb continued to take formal lessons from his father until he was 12 years old, because he started to have other interest. After being inspired by listening to the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau and other local musicians at the age of 17, he became a devotee of Hawaiian music and the ‘ukulele. The ‘ukulele is in his genes and Hawaiian music is in his blood. Herb enjoys listening to all types of music, Classical, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Country, Hip-hop, Rap, Latin, Salsa, and Reggae. But Herb’s favorite songs to perform are anything Hawaiian and any types of ballads. He feels that Hawaiian songs and ballads bring out the natural purist sound of the instrument. Herb’s style is reminiscent of his father, but distinct and recognizable as his very own. There is a graceful “Nahenahe” quality that is very Hawaiian, reflecting the inspirations of ‘ukulele virtuoso’s Eddie Kamae and of course Ohta-San.
At 11 years old, Herb, Jr. began to teach for his father’s ‘ukulele school occasionally while his father traveled away from home for business. In 1992, Herb started his own ‘ukulele classes and gave lessons at Sonny D’s ‘Ukulele Shop in Waipahu, O‘ahu & Harry’s Music Store in Kaimuki, O‘ahu.
Teaching six days a week, Herb also finds time to compose new material, entertain at private and public functions, produce, and record. His recording debut was in 1990 on his father’s recording. Since then, Herb has recorded on over 50 recordings. With 15 Nā Hōkū Award nominations to his credit, he won a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for “‘Ukulele Nahenahe” in 2011, “Pure ‘Ukulele” in 2013, “‘Ukulele Friends” in 2015, and “‘Ukulele Friends: The Sequel” in 2018. Herb is also a four-time Hawai’i Music Award Winner as well. Herb has released 3 national releases in Japan, 1 in Taiwan, and co-authored two ‘ukulele instructional books with Grammy Award artist Daniel Ho that was released in Japan and the United States. In 2015 Herb published a songbook of his arrangements in Korea.
As a teacher, composer, recording artist, entertainer, and producer, Herb Ohta, Jr. solidly establishes himself in the company of musicians who promote our Hawaiian instrument in the music landscape today. It is Herb’s goal to share the beauty of Hawai’i’s music, its culture, and the ‘ukulele to people all over the world. Herb has performed throughout the state of Hawai‘i and has traveled overseas to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, The United Kingdom, and the mainland USA.
Herb Ohta, Jr. is certainly a vanguard of his generation of ‘ukulele players, and he is well on his way to matching his father’s legacy.
Singer/musician Pomaikaʻi Lyman grew up under the guidance of a talented musical family, the Keawe Aiko ʻohana. Her special mentor was none other than a beloved and legendary voice in Hawaiian music, her grandmother, Genoa Keawe. Lyman steps into the spotlight in this episode of our traditional Hawaiian music series. She’s accompanied by Po‘okela Wood on guitar, Keao Costa on bass, and Jeff Au Hoy on steel guitar. Lyman’s family and friends also share the stage to perform songs including “Beautiful Kahana” and the popular hula song “Noho Paipai,” also known as the “Rocking Chair Hula.” Lyman’s family brought some of Aunty Genoa Keawe’s furniture to our studio to bring a sense of mana and a feeling of home.
Halehaku Seabury, founding member of the multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winning group Nā Hoa, is a multi-instrumentalist, composer/arranger, and vocalist from Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu. He developed an early passion for music from his parents while growing up in Kāneʻohe. Picking up the ʻukulele at age seven, he played alongside his father’s band Kolonahe, just three years later.
In his formative years, Seabury studied the Hawaiian steel guitar under the tutilage of his uncle, Hawaiian steel guitar master Alan L. Akaka. He was motivated and learned his interpretation of so many aspects of Hawaiian music at an early age, hearing the harmonic, Hawaiian genius of musicians like Jake Keli‘ikoa, Jules Ah See, Barney Issacs, Gabby Pahinui on steel, and his great-grandfather Joseph “Steppy” De Rego.
A quick study on guitar who played incessantly, Seabury fell in love with the guitar in 1998. Major influences at this time were the work of Jazz guitarist John McLaughlin with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis and Anthony Williams Lifetime, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Eric Dolphy, Egberto Gismonti, Bill Connors and Gary Thomas.
Halehaku formed a Hawaiian falsetto trio, Nā Hoa, with ‘ukulele player/vocalist extraordinaire, Maui-native Ikaika Blackburn and bassist, falsetto wunderkind and longtime schoolmate Keoni Souza in early 2002. Specializing in a form of Hawaiian singing known as Leo Ki‘eki‘e, or falsetto. “Nā Hoa is well-known in the Hawaiian music community as individually talented vocalists and musicians. Together, they elevate traditional Hawaiian music with soaring falsetto harmonies
Since inception, Nā Hoa has a steadily increasing fanbase, and in 2012, released its self-titled debut album, “Nā Hoa” to critical acclaim. Garnering four of the seven “Nā Hōkū Hanohano” awards for which it was nominated, the trio’s self-titled debut album won: Album of the Year, Group of the Year, Most Promising Artist and Hawaiian Music Album of the Year in 2013. E.P. of the Year in 2016.
Musical epiphany came when finding there was room for interpolation of jazz and Hawaiian music, and its recorded history, including the works of: Albert Ka‘ailau with the Kahauanu Lake Trio, Hiram Olsen with the Lopaka Trio/ Jerry Byrd, Hiram’s brother Sterling Kahalepuna with Al Lopaka, Benny Chong with the ‘Ali‘i’s, Dennis “Kuki” Among and Harold Haku‘ole on Makaha Records.
Halehaku has been fortunate to befriend many of the influences who were kind enough to impart some of their music knowledge—among them: Dr. Byron Yasui, Benny Chong, Imaikalani Young, Kuki and Beverley Among, Hiram Olsen, Bryan Tolentino, Chino Montero, and Lopaka Smith.
He began delving into jazz (within the confines of Hawaiian music) with his own band, Nā Hoa, while playing in clubs around Honolulu. He soon needed a vehicle to extrapolate the possibilities of modern/jazz harmony and Hawaiian compositions.
In 2009, he founded “Ke Kauoha: The Jazz Project” with Kapono Nā‘ili‘ili. Building something of a cult following, “The In Jazz Project” built a reputation for revitalizing Hawaiian repertoire with exciting arrangements built with modern influences and an amazing, almost comedic, sense of cultural awareness.
Ever the perpetual student, it is Halehaku Seabury’s passion “to combine the elegance of Hawaiian music and imagery of modern harmony into a vivid, cinematic musical form that can be appreciated by both Hawaiian and Non- Hawaiian music fans alike.”