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“I choose to play the Kamaka ‘ukulele simply because it suits me to a tee and is the best sounding instrument, for my taste. I now play a custom made hybrid (tenor body, baritone neck), which Casey made especially for me, and I love it. It happens to have a killer G string 12 fret harmonic that projects to the moon and rings for days. Additionally, I have come to know and love the Kamaka family and all they stand for. Just plain good people, the family and the staff.”
Byron Yasui started playing the ‘ukulele around 1955, when he was about 14 years old. He is self-taught on the ‘ukulele, as well as on the two other instruments he plays, classical guitar and jazz bass. Around 1960, he started playing jazz bass and put the ‘ukulele away...until 1998. This was the year the ‘Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum people asked him to take part in an east coast ‘Ukulele Masters four city concert tour as a last minute replacement for a then ailing Herb Ohta, Sr., on Lyle Ritz’s recommendation. Then in 2000, he was asked to put together a concert of four ‘ukulele soloists, which he called, “The Art of Solo ‘Ukulele”. This project developed into a multi-island concert tour, a CD project, and a Hawai’i Public TV installment in the Na Mele series. So after forty years, these two events motivated him to play the ‘ukulele again, more seriously than ever before! He has since produced a solo ‘ukulele CD, “Anahola", participated in several local and mainland ‘ukulele festivals as concert soloist and clinician, was featured twice as ‘ukulele soloist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, and was commissioned by the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra to compose an ‘ukulele concerto for Jake Shimabukuro to premiere with the Symphony, June 6 and 7, 2015. Since then, the concerto, with Jake as soloist, has been performed by the Colorado Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic and was featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” to an audience of 1.4 million listeners.
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