Ohta San: Soul Time In Hawaii

What makes soul, soul? I’ve asked this question before, and my answer is: “soul” moves us from deep within. Herb Ohta, Sr. (Ohta San) taps into that soul spectrum with his Decca LP, Soul Time In Hawaii.

What makes soul, soul? Is it a man singing from the depths of his being? Is it smooth? Does it swing? Does it have to swing? I’ve asked this question before, and I want to tell you my answer again: “soul” moves us from deep within.

You know it when you hear it. Makes you wanna sing, hum, shout, cry, smile, laugh. Makes you want to be here now. 

An artist like Herb Ohta, Sr., also known as Ohta San, knows how to tap into that soul spectrum, and he proves it with his Decca LP, Soul Time In Hawaii. With the sweetest of serenades to ever come from an ukulele, Ohta San’s version of “Shangri-La” pulls you into to the heart of what soul can be. Check it out and tell me what you think:

*Please excuse the clicks and hiss, my copy isn’t as clean as I initially thought. 

When I first came across this (in Eugene, Oregon, of all places), I immediately bought it for its album cover—a lei’d Ohta San dressed in aloha wear, kicking back beachside with his ukulele, a gorgeous mountain climbing along the ocean behind him. I don’t exactly know where this photo was taken, but what really gets me is his expression, so cool and calm.

Ohta San Soul Time in Hawaii

And, if you know me, you’ll know that bossa nova tracks get me too. Like Ohta San’s cover of “Manha de Carnaval”, composed by Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá. I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff.

What does “soul” mean to you?

  1. Great album!
    Roger, I’m pretty sure the front cover photo was taken on Kauai near Lihue. The rounded peak at the right of Ohta-San is Haupu.


  2. […] -Ohta San: Soul Time in Hawaii. [Aloha Got Soul] […]


  3. What sublime listening this is! Indeed, both songs jazz standards..and somehow both cannot be anything but soul. What does it mean to be “jazz” and what does it mean to be “soul”? Is jazz a way of thinking or a way of playing? Is soul a sound or a feeling or a sonic spectrum? Soul is evocative with little regard to form or convention


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