Lyle Ritz Using Uke And Mac

Thanks to Lou Smith on The Exotica Mailing List

NPR – Weekend Edition Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lyle Ritz has logged over 5,000 sessions on the bass as a studio musician. But for his latest project, he wanted to figure out a way to make music on a computer. So Ritz bought an Apple laptop and a software program called GarageBand, designed for making home recordings. Six months later, he completed work on a new solo album.

‘Hardly anybody knew how to operate GarageBand, how to deal with it,’ Ritz says. ‘So I had to fool with it a couple of months.’

On No Frills, however, Ritz entered the bass line into the computer using a synthesizer. That’s because the album features Lyle Ritz’s other musical passion: the jazz ukulele.

Ritz is known as the ‘father of jazz ukulele’ for merging the genre with the four-stringed instrument, and his credits on bass include multiple pop hit singles. However, it was in college, while he was working at a Los Angeles music store, when Ritz first picked up either instrument.

‘This was in the 50s, when Arthur Godfrey, the entertainer, who liked to play the [ukulele], popularized the instrument, and so many people just had to have ukes,’ Ritz says. ‘And one day I picked it up, somebody wanted to see this beautiful, nice, big tenor uke, and I picked it up and played a few chords on it, and I was gone.’

After a stint with a U.S. Army Band during the Korean War—in which Ritz played tuba—he dropped by the music store and played a few tunes on the ukulele for his former boss. Ritz didn’t know that jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, the West Coast representative for Verve Records, was present.

‘I just about fell through the floor,’ Ritz says. ‘I couldn’t believe that I had actually played before this man.’

Kessel offered Ritz a record deal, and in 1957—50 years ago—Ritz recorded an LP called How About Uke?, the first album for jazz ukulele.

How About Uke and its follow-up 50th State Jazz generated little interest, however, and Ritz soon abandoned the ukulele for the bass. It was at that point when Ritz joined the ‘Wrecking Crew,’ the legendary group of studio musicians who played on many of the pop hits which came out of the Los Angeles area from the mid 1960s to the early 80s. Later, Ritz also played on film scores.

While Lyle Ritz’s bass was heard by millions, his jazz records for Verve were being studied by a generation of musicians in Hawaii, home of the ukulele.

Roy Sakuma is Hawaii’s foremost teacher of the instrument. ‘All of a sudden here comes Lyle with all these fantastic chord harmonies that just took music to a whole new level on the ukulele,’ Sakuma says. Sakuma tracked Ritz down in 1984, inviting him to headline his annual ukulele festival in Hawaii. Ritz ended up moving to the islands for some time.

Ritz currently lives in Portland, Ore., where he continues to experiment with music and new recording technology. He says he’s always fooling with his ukulele—after all, he did teach himself to play the instrument.

‘I’m a firm believer and exponent of the art of noodling,’ Ritz says. ‘You don’t necessarily have to have a goal in mind, you don’t have to have a specific phrase or song that you’re working on, but you just fool with it and things happen. And I call the result the fruit of the noodle.’

Lyle Ritz on iTunes

Enchanted Tiki and Luau This Weekend at Egyptian (repost)

tiki shag

Friday, July 6 – 7:30 PM
Hawaii, 1966, MGM Repertory, 161 min.
Director George Roy Hill’s (Throughly Modern Millie) adaptation of James Michener’s sprawling South Seas epic was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography (Russell Harlan) and Best Music Score (Elmer Bernstein). Max Von Sydow is the puritanical missionary who marries disappointed-in-love Julie Andrews just before they set sail to do the Lord’s work in the early 19th century island paradise. But they get more than they bargained for, squeezed between an onslaught of natural disasters and strange native customs. Their Calvinist devotion to a fire-and-brimstone worldview clashes head-on with the uninhibited, Dionysian headiness of the tropical lifestyle. With Richard Harris as Andrews’ former flame, Gene Hackman, Carroll O’Conner, Jocelyne LaGarde (who received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress).

Saturday, July 7 – 4:00 PM
Rare Tiki Island-Themed TV
Approx. 60 min. Artist Kevin Kidney hosts an entertaining hour of vintage tiki-themed television from the early 1960s – including some special surprises! *Tickets available to this program at the door only UNLESS purchased with the Luau Dinner ($20).

Saturday, July 7 – 5:00 PM
Luau Dinner
Following the 4 PM program, join us in the Egyptian Courtyard at 5 PM for a Royal Southern California-style Luau with live music from King Kukelele and his Friki Tikis, the Polynesian Paradise Dancers, vendors and a bountiful island-themed dinner.

On Saturday, July 7th, you have three special ticket price options:
Movies Only (valid for all movies on Saturday only):
General: $12; Senior/Student: $10; Cinematheque Member: $9

Luau Dinner Only: $20 (includes film admission for 4 PM show and dinner.)

All Movies (4 PM and 7:30 PM Movies), plus the Luau Dinner:
General: $27; Senior/Student: $25; Cinematheque Member: $24

*A limited number of dinners will be sold at the door. To guarantee a dinner ticket please purchase in advance.

Vendors in the Courtyard may include: Tiki Tony, Adrift Clothing, Crazy Al’s Bone Productions, “Dumb Angel” Magazine authors Dominic Priore and Brian Chidister, Tiki Diablo, Falling Cocos, Coconut Kids Clothing, Tiki Farm, the American Cinematheque selling poster and others…

Saturday, July 7 – 7:30 PM
Double Feature:
The Sophisticated Misfit, 2007, Smee Entertainment, 65 min.
Mark Chervinsky directed this four-year exploration of the world of Shag, the unlikeliest of Los Angeles artistic icons. Shag’s work doesn’t reflect the multicultural urban milieu of contemporary Los Angeles but rather an entirely different era. Think post-WWII boom years, suburban tracts sprawling across the landscape, Disneyland opening its doors and designers embracing the space-age motifs of Sputnik and the mission to the moon. Shag’s world is one of early 1960’s furniture, cocktail hours, sprawling ranch houses, built-in wet bars, and jet-set style. He embraces a simpler time. But his artwork is filled with subtle, humorous winks of the eye acknowledging that this period wasn’t quite so simple. The smiling women in their mod dresses hold secrets. The festive party scene in the go-go ’60’s home isn’t really what it seems. With Whoopi Goldberg, Patton Oswalt, Paul Frank and Shag. Winner of the Maverick Filmmaker Award at the 2007 Newport Beach Film Festival.

His Majesty O’Keefe, 1954, Warner Bros., 91 min.
Director Byron Haskin (THE NAKED JUNGLE; the original WAR OF THE WORLDS) brings a bracing exuberance to this tall tale of stranded-in-Micronesia sea captain Burt Lancaster’s quest to manipulate his native hosts into helping him build a trading empire. Joan Rice is the enchanting island girl who ends up being queen to his king. The spectacular Fiji Islands locations were stunningly photographed by the great cinematographer Otto Heller (THE CRIMSON PIRATE). Co-starring Andre Morell, Abraham Sofaer, Benson Fong. “…This swashbuckling South Seas adventure feature is ideally suited to Burt Lancaster’s muscular heroics. The Fiji Islands location lensing is a plus…” — Variety Discussion in between films with Shag and director Mark Chervinsky.

Sunday, July 8 – 7:30 PM
Miss Sadie Thompson, 1953, Sony Repertory, 91 min. Dir. Curtis Bernhardt (Possessed).
After having to leave Hawaii when her Honolulu singing job goes kaput, hard-luck dame Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth) is stranded on the isle of Samoa which is home to a U.S. Army base. She’s befriended by well-meaning, lovable GI hunk Aldo Ray as well as his soldier pals (including a young Charles Bronson). But dirty-minded lay minister and self-righteous gadabout Jose Ferrer, laying over with his wife on a trip, believes she is nothing more than a common prostitute and is offended by her presence. He takes it upon himself to make Sadie’s life a living hell until he can get her deported back to the States. Although Rita’s singing voice was dubbed by Jo Ann Greer, you would never know it during the musical numbers – she is positively dynamite performing “Hear No Evil,” “The Heat Is On,” and “Blue Pacific Blues.” Originally shot in 3-D, this is a terrific color remake of W. Somerset Maugham’s classic tale Miss Thompson, first filmed in 1932 as RAIN by director Lewis Milestone with Joan Crawford.

tiki2

Power & Taboo Exibition in London!

Quote from The Britiish Museum site:
Power & Taboo explores the power of the gods in the Polynesian islands of
the eastern Pacific. Displaying part of the British Museum’s remarkable early
collections from this region, and illustrated with images made in the
early part of European settlement (1760-1860), the exhibition investigates
Polynesian ideas about the gods and how to manage their power. Rare
examples of feathered cloaks and valuable ornaments of jade and ivory from
islands such as Aotearoa New Zealand, Rapa Nui Easter Island and Hawaii
are also included in the exhibition. Many of these objects had a lasting influence
on 20th century artists such as Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso.

New Luxuriamusic Shows

Here..s what Domenic Priore wrote about the new Luxuriamusic shows:

Friday: Dom, Kari and Becky 3-9 pm on Luxuriamusic.com

hey there all youse MySpace pals…

Domenic Priore reporting here; I shoulda told you sooner, but I’ve just started a radio DJ gig on Friday afternoons, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time… that means my New York friends can tune in at 6:00 p.m…. as for England etc., it starts at something like 10 or 11 p.m. (In Hawaii, it’s on at noon)

This can be heard here, every Friday: Luxuriamusic.com

My show is called Volcanic Action, and the music is primarily Exotica and Surf… whatever works in that context, including West Coast Jazz, Bossa Nova, Hawaiian, Surf instrumentals and Surf movie soundtracks, ’60s Beach Boys/Jan & Dean-type things (Gals made those kinda records too!), Indo-Rock, records from Australia and South Africa, ethereal Joe Meek, Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny… lotsa groovy stuff to dance to, to relax with, and to take you far out into the oceanic stratoshpere. Remember what Lloyd Bridges said on Sea Hunt; “75% of the world is covered in water, so learn to live with it, and enjoy its many riches”

K.A.O.S. a Go Go with Agent Kari follows at 5 p.m. PST with Psychedelic Go Go music, deep and rich. To find out more about who Agent Kari is, see pages 200-205 of PAD (Chronicle Books)

The evening gets really gone, to happy-land, with Bubblegum & Other Delights from 7-9 PST. DJ Becky Ebenkamp (also known as Penelope Pitstop, New York Becky and more) gets down with the whole Joey Levine/Kastenez-Katz/Archies vibe… it’s better’n a thrilling game of chutes and ladders. (You can read tons of Becky’s work in the Kim Coper/David Smay book Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, from Feral House).

Please be with us; we’re here every Friday, your mutual friends of Dumb Angel, spinnin’ on Luxuriamusic.com

Domenic Priore

Fridays on Luxuriamusic.com
3-5 pm Volcanic Action hosted by Domenic Priore

Pop historian Domenic Priore (of Dumb Angel Magazine) has got a new weekly show on my favorite radiostation, Luxuriamusic.com.

Each saturday 0:00 cet, 3:00 pm pst.

Now, this is the show if you have any interest in Surf music. In his first show last friday he played the direct LA roots of Surf, where it went and some mega-rare tracks from the 61-64 heyday, you wont hear anywhere else. Together with the other styles he spins it makes for very entertaining and interesting four hours.