Lyle Ritz

All of us young kids who were playing the ukulele, we'd buy that record ["How About Uke?"], and we would sit by the phonograph, play it over and over, and we would all try to learn 'Lulu's Back In Town.' We used to play just C, F, G7 back then. Then all of a sudden here comes Lyle with all these fantastic chord harmonies that just, you know, took music to a whole new level on the ukulele!
     -- Roy Sakuma
[Voice of America - 13 Dec 2004]

Recommended Listening:
No Frills Buy
How About Uke Buy
Time... Ukulele Jazz Buy
Live at McCabe's (with Herb Ohta) Buy
Ukulele Duo (with Herb Ohta) Buy
Sample Track:  Lulu's Back in Town
(from "Time... Ukulele Jazz")

Lyle Ritz is known throughout the world as one of the original "masters" of the 'Ukulele. Also a professional bass player, Mr. Ritz has performed and recorded with the 'ukulele for over 40 years. His proficiency at 'ukulele jazz chords has gained him respect from all of the music industry. Lyle Ritz has been heard by millions and millions, on records, TV shows, and on motion picture scores. One of the legendary "Wrecking Crew" of the Hollywood Studio scene of the 60s and 70s, he was hired for some 5,000 recording sessions. He is heard behind many of the top voices of the era: Sinatra, Ronstadt, The Righteous Brothers, Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Johnny Mathis. Burt Bacharach and John Williams called him for their Oscar-winning movie scores. Remember "Name That Tune", the Smother Brothers original Comedy Hour TV series, "Donny and Marie", "Andy Williams", "Sonny and Cher", "Rockford Files", "Kojak"? All those and more. And for his film, "The Jerk", Steve Martin asked for ukulele. Yes, it's Lyle who actually recorded the ukulele for Steve in the movie.

Born in Cleveland, Lyle Ritz began his musical studies on the violin and in high school added the tuba to his musical experience. While in college, Lyle worked part-time at the Southern California Music Co. in downtown Los Angeles. His situation was the "Small Goods Dept." which stocked strings, reeds, harmonicas, accessories, gadgets and...ukuleles. He was attracted to the lovely, intimate sound of the tenor ukulele. But, not knowing much more than Hawaii existed somewhere and having no one to instruct him, Lyle played only standards and some mainland hit tunes of the day...the day being in the 50s. Barney Kessel, who at the time was the West Coast A&R for Verve Records heard Lyle play and offered him a recording contract. The result of that was two jazz ukulele albums, "How About Uke?" and "50th State Jazz". Unbeknownst to Lyle, these two albums became an integral and significant influence to many of Hawaii's most respected musicians today. In 1989, Lyle, his wife Geri and daughter Emily, moved from Southern California to "retire" in Hawaii but has since played with Jimmy Borges, Gabe Baltazar, Del Courtney, Charo, Melveen Leed and in 1995 recorded another jazz ukulele album, "Time". "Hawaii is a wonderful home for us and a fine place for a child to grow up. And I get to play my ukulele again!"