As he was laying down the bass riffs for Ray Charles, Tina Turner and the Beach Boys in the recording studios of L.A. — his music filling the soundtrack of the 1960s, a different musical reputation was growing 2,500 miles away.
But it wasn’t the bass guitar that had drawn Hawaiian musicians to Lyle Ritz. It was the ukulele.
Years before Ritz became a member of the fabled group of session musicians known as “the Wrecking Crew,” he had had a musical affair with the ukulele, recording several albums.
He wasn’t a fan of the traditional island melodies, but was intrigued at how he could coax jazz from an instrument that looked so small and powerless.
When he was later...