Ukulele, guitar and Hawaiian steel guitar.
Read some of the nice things people had to say about Gerald Ross.
General Reviews and Lavish Praise
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Gerald Ross is a world-class musician playing guitar, ukulele, and steel. The drums and bass lines are sequenced. The song line-up includes a list of hits from decades all of them brilliantly arranged and played by Gerald.
When it comes to instrumental music, Gerald is one of those people that has a great understanding of dynamics and subtlety. His playing is smooth and he exhibits a great deal of finesse. Nothing is over the top and nothing is left wanting.
The CD kicks off with a Benny Goodman tune. If you like swing, this track with get your attention in the few seconds and keep it.
“Samba De Orfeu”, the Luis Bonfa tune is a standard. It’s been in movie scores and countless recordings. Gerald plays it beautifully.
“California Girls” has a little swing edge to it.
“Sleepwalk” is an old Farina brothers tune. It’s been played and recorded many times over the years, but Gerald makes it his own. There is an Hawaiian flavor to this rendition, thanks to the steel guitar. The steel is dead-on. You won’t hear timing mishaps, nor flat or sharp notes. With such extensive use of steel, that is rare. Flawlessly performed in this recording.
“Sabor A Mi'” will hook you in the first measure. Great intro. I love the guitar work. Again, timing is EVERYTHING on this song and Gerald pins it down nicely. Even the sequenced snare drum is perfect.
“You Don’t Know Me” is another song that became a standard. Cindy Walker wrote it… I think it was the mid 1950s. It was recorded by several notable artists, including Ray Charles who gave it a really edgy vibe. I love this interpretation of it.
“One Mint Julep” also was done by Ray Charles. It has appeared on many recordings.
“Things We Said Today” Beatles tune. I believe Paul McCartney wrote this tune. Not many people remember it.
“The Gypsy” is another standard. I recall the Ink Spots version of the tune.
“Canadian Sunset” is another song I have heard many time. I really like Gerald’s interpretation of it here. Nice blend of guitars and steel.
“Apache” is a “surf music” tune and I have heard it more than once. I am not sure who wrote it. Nicely done.
“He Aloha No Honolulu” I was not familiar with this song. I like it. Again, nice steel work.
“Runaway” Del Shannon made run-run-run-run-runaway a bit hit in the early Sixties. Gerald has once again made it his own.
“Music to Watch Girls By” …I remember this song from my parents record collection when I was a kid. Andy Williams had a great voice and I remember his rendition well.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. I want more. This is a great collection of tunes from a great musician.
Issue 5, April 2009
This CD has grabbed the attention of the ukulele world, and when you give it listen you’ll know why.
I just got mine, and I love it! I have other recordings by ukulele greats like Ohta-San, Lyle Ritz and Roy Smeck, along with the “Legends of Ukulele” compilation put out by Rhino featuring other masters past and present, and I think Gerald’s work ranks right up there among them. (Nice steel guitar, too) Congrats on a fine CD! Highly recommended.
Even an old duffer like me can appreciate the artistry and talent on this disc. My golf hat’s off to you Gerald !!
Don “Snoshu” Thompson
(formerly of “the DT’s”)
I bought this CD after buying my first ukulele, hoping it would help this old guitar player acquire an ear for the uke. This CD has given me more than an ear for the ukulele, it has also provided me a great deal of pleasure and joy, set my feet to tapping, and moved me to strum away on my new uke every day! Even my eight-year-old daughter loves this CD.
Interesting, skilled playing, great tune selection. One of the best versions of Back Home in Indiana I’ve ever heard. Pretty As the Moon is just gorgeous! Every track’s a winner on this excellent CD. I’m glad I bought a copy.
Marion Garbo Seltzer
Ladies and Gentlemen (small drumroll): If you haven’t yet decided to buy, please do – you won’t be disappointed. If you have ordered and are nervously awaiting its arrival, believe me the wait will be worthwhile. I haven’t been as delighted with a new uke CD since Soybean Sawyer’s magnum opus way back when. They always say that siblings produce uncanny collaborations together (the Boswell Sisters, the Andrews Sisters, the Everlies, etc.) – how much more so when you’re accompanying yourself? Gerald, clearly expert in all his chosen instruments for this disc, effortlessly gets around the potential problems of overtracking yourself: he doesn’t sound laboured and metronomic; rather spontaneous and in a definite groove. The choice of tracks is pretty much without fault – Tin Pan Alley, Island, Modern and Standards alongside some self-penned crackers – and the whole production is a delight from beginning to end. Even the cover graphics had me smiling. Many of us will have heard tasters for this album online – they set a pretty high standard, which the rest of the tracks match effortlessly. Alongside the earlier-mentioned Mr Sawyer, it’s great to see and hear top quality musicianship coming to the ukulele again. I bet Lyle Ritz would like this (praise enough!), and cannot recommend this disc highly enough for those looking for a soundtrack to the Summer. Top marks, Mr Ross – I look forward to your next waxing! Many thanks.
I’m listening to my CD right now and am in heaven. ‘Indiana’ is playing and I can’t decide which I like better, that or Easter Parade. Hold the vote, I have to add in Chattanoga Choo Choo to my favs. What a great CD. Don’t pass this one up folks!
It’s hard to say whether the ukulele is making a comeback — if it will ever again be as popular as it was in the 1920s and ’30s. Certainly many musicians in a number of different and sometimes unexpected genres such as rock ‘n’ roll and pop are taking it up. Not only musicians, either. Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the world, plays one. (I wonder what Bill Gates plays: a piccolo?)
The ukulele is a Mini Cooper among the SUVs of the music world. It has neither the volume, nor the tonal range of guitars, violins and other acoustic stringed instruments, but if you know how, you can get a lot of musical mileage out of it.
Gerald Ross knows how. Long a familiar face on the Ann Arbor and national music scene for his work with the Lost World String Band, among others, Ross is an excellent guitar player who is also accomplished on Hawaiian steel guitar and Cajun accordion. However, on his latest recording it’s the uke that wins pole position.
On Ukulele Stomp, Ross expertly steers his way through a wide variety of musical styles from Western swing to jazz and blues, and of course a few requisite Hawaiian tunes, smoothly shifting gears from Irving Berlin to the Beatles, from “That’s Amore” to “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Every track is tastefully arranged and masterfully performed — Ross plays all the instruments on the album — and every tune serves as yet another fine vehicle for displaying the ukulele’s unique capabilities. Ukulele Stomp belongs in the winner’s circle.
Gerald Ross is the consummate musician. He plays steel guitar, guitar, and ukulele with great expertise in any style. We have commissioned him as house guitarist of the TSGA Non Pedal Session in Dallas for the last 3 years – and each year he skillfully accompanies over a dozen very diverse steel players and performs his own excellent steel guitar set. We’re very fortunate that he will be returning to Dallas again this March.
Texas Steel Guitar Association Annual Jamboree
Gerald is truly one of the greatest multi-instrumental musicians in the Midwest. His repertoire includes Hawaiian steel guitar, ukulele, guitar and bass, and many more instruments. You would be hard pressed to find a musician with the breadth and depth of musical knowledge that Gerald possesses. His three CDs cover blues, swing, Beatles, Hawaiian, Tahitian, Latin, Italian, Aboriginal, and original instrumental arrangements and compositions. He has been featured on Bosko and Honey’s Ukulele Safari, and has been a guest numerous times on the “Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor. When Gerald goes to a ukulele festival, and the Windy City Ukulele Festival was no exception, everyone wants to jam with him. He always gets more stage time than everyone else. That’s because of his expertise on all of the instruments he plays and his ability to adapt to most any musical style. His warm personal demeanor, friendly smile, and intricate melodies always seem to mesmerize the crowd. Gerald Ross is the cream-of-crop of professional musicians, and continues to leave his audiences happy and wanting more.
Co-Organizer of the Windy City UkeFest
“The Best Ukulele Experience in the Midwest”
When I hire my staff, there are three main things I look for: (1) Great musicianship (2) That the person conduct him/herself in a professional manner (3) That this is someone who is pleasant & easy to work with. Gerald Ross has all three in spades! He plays great (and on multiple instruments!). He is a wonderfully prepared, organized, and thoughtful teacher and a polished performer. And he is SUCH A NICE GUY…. he makes everyone feel important. He doesn’t need much sleep, either! Just make sure he has coffee in the morning and he keeps on going… I would highly recommend Gerald for any performing venue or instructional seminar.
Coordinator, Swing Week at Augusta
Augusta Heritage Center
Elkins, West Virginia
Gerald Ross is an entire music festival and music camp in one! He does it all with style, grace and wit. As a teacher, Gerald is extremely organized and easily gets the concepts across to his students whether on ukulele, lap steel guitar or swing guitar. As a performer and headliner, he captivates the audience by the diversity of styles he plays as well as his ability to move between the various instruments he plays. Other performers relish the opportunity to have Gerald accompany them as he makes everyone sound better than they really are! Gerald is fun to work with and musicians and students alike appreciate his willingness to share his talents to help them achieve new musical goals!
From the first moment to the last, [Beginning Hawaiian/Western Swing Lap Steel Guitar] was the best class I have ever taken! Gerald had a clear syllabus which outlined what he would do each day. He was organized in all of his lessons from beginning to end. He combined explanations with presentations and individual help. The class was quite varied in ability and he worked with each student on his/her own level. Even the things I had already learned from my teacher at home were covered by Gerald in such a way that I learned even more! I was not in his ukulele class, but all the students from that class, too, told me how much they learned in Gerald’s class. He is an awesome teacher! I personally hope that he can teach an intermediate lap steel class next year.
A Student in Gerald’s “Beginning Hawaiian/Western
Swing Lap Steel Guitar” Class
Augusta Swing Week 2010
On stage, he is entertaining and very, very funny. His musicianship is superb and his audiences love his subtle–and tasteful–sense of humor.
And while Gerald is an endearing solo performer, his fellow musicians know they can turn to him when they need back-up, whether it’s on the upright bass, guitar, lap steel guitar, or ukulele.
Gerald is an excellent teacher as well. His workshops are well-planned, user-friendly, and constantly evolving. He gets nothing but the highest marks from his students, who love him for his skill, knowledge, and generosity.
As a staff member of both the Wine Country Ukulele Festival and the West Coast Ukulele Retreat, Gerald arrives on the scene prepared and well-organized and is always willing to step in where needed. If I could clone him, I would.
Gerald has the gift of taking complex musical concepts and techniques and breaking them down into easy-to-understand components. He has a way of inspiring players to better themselves by providing them with clear explanation and direction, delivered with encouragement and humor that make his students feel confident and comfortable.
Mighty Uke Day
Light the candles, spike the eggnog and trim the tree… spin the dreidel and send out for Chinese.”
It’s Mistletoe Mazel Tov, a new CD of ukulele holiday favorites from Ukulelia pal, Gerald Ross.
Gerald calls this a “collection of holiday instrumental classics arranged for ukulele and steel guitar.” He was kind enough to send us a reviewer’s copy and we’ve been rockin’ around the Christmas tree here for several days. My favorite so far is his arrangement of the achingly bittersweet Christmas Time is Here from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”…
…At our humble, but brilliant suggestion, Gerald has posted the chords for his arrangement of Go Tell it on the Mountain online here.
Get your copy today and give it a sov.
The ukulele is the musical embodiment of the old adage, “Good things come in small packages.” Or, perhaps more accurately, “Good things come from small packages.” Long familiar as a simple instrument, perfect for accompanying three chord folk songs—á la Burl Ives—or as a comic musical prop—think Tiny Tim—the ukulele also has a long history of virtuoso players in Hawaii and the mainland who have explored and exploited the potential of the instrument. In the past couple of decades another generation of master players have brought the instrument much more visibility and have elevated it to new musical heights. One of those masters is long time local musician, Gerald Ross.
Ross, (who I’ve profiled in these pages before) has been playing traditional American roots music on guitar for decades. (With occasional forays into other genres. I remember him in the late 1970s playing Mozart’s “Rondo a la Turk” on solo guitar—no small feat—to accompany famed bones/percussionist Percy Danforth.) He’s also accomplished on Cajun accordion and since 1997, on Hawaiian electric lap steel guitar. He’s only been playing ukulele seriously since December of 2004, but he’s clearly a very fast learner and has rapidly rocketed to the upper echelon of uke players nationally and even internationally, via the web. In the past few years he’s played and taught at ukulele festivals from Portland to New York, from Chicago to Dallas. He has released several recordings of his ukulele and lap steel driven music and his latest is perhaps his most charming.
Mistletoe Mazel Tov is, of course, a holiday album. And, perhaps like you, I get pretty tired of hearing the same Chanukah and Christmas songs over and over every year, even, or perhaps especially, in the various (and sometimes weird) versions that come out every fall. In contrast, Mistletoe Mazel Tov is a very refreshing surprise. The minute I put it on our home CD player, my wife, daughter and I began to smile. Soon we were dancing along to the music and, though we had no mistletoe hanging… (Who needs the mistletoe excuse, anyway?)
The CD starts with one of the more bluesy, swinging versions of “Sevivon” I’ve ever heard, complete with a repeating descending bass line that brings to mind “Hit the Road, Jack.” Ross’ rendition rolls along beautifully and manages to simultaneously be both nimble and yet insistent.
The 65-yearold classic, “Let It Snow” is clearly not yet ready to be retired if Ross’ solo ukulele arrangement is any indication. The motto of Ross’ record company, UkeTone Records, is, “Four strings are plenty enough.” No idle boast that. In the hands of a ukulele master like Ross, the instrument can assume almost orchestral dimensions and can provide melody, harmony and rhythm as capably as a guitar or piano.
And, if you know how, and Ross clearly does know how, the ukulele is also capable of a surprisingly wide range of tonal colors. Listen to the gorgeous bell-like sounds Ross gets on “Silver Bells.”
“Late Night Latke Party” introduces Ross’ considerable abilities on the Hawaiian lap steel guitar. The impeccably arranged tune, as all of them are on this disk, is a delicious mixture of guitar, tenor uke and the lap steel.
Ross says on the liner notes that he rewrote the bridge of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” because to him it sounded too much like Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susannah.” Nice job, Gerald. The new bridge sounds good and does not sound like “Oh! Susannah.” However, to me, the verse melody still sounds like “If I knew You Were Coming I’d Have Baked a Cake.” Nevertheless, another clever, pleasing arrangement that helps us to freshly hear a familiar holiday earworm.
“Chanukah Oh Chanukah” has never sounded as good as it does here, and might be the first Dobro and ukulele version ever. Ross says on the liner notes, “Makes sense to me.” Me too.
If I have one kvetch about this CD it’s that it’s too short. Or maybe it’s just that time flies when you’re having fun. More, Gerald, more!
Washtenaw Jewish News
Dec 2010/Jan 2011
The Michigan-based self-taught Gerald Ross has recorded an album that includes ten Christmas- and Hanukkah-themed tunes. He plays ukulele, guitar, bass and drums, and has newly arranged all of the pieces for ukulele.
On his Talsma Tenor Ukulele, accompanied by bass and guitar, he re-interprets the slow waltz “Silver Bells.” He then invites you to a cool jazzy “Late Night Latke Party.” His electric Talsma Tenor Ukulele provides a magical bass rhythm, with guitar and drums, and the Fender Champion Steel Guitar sings its melancholy song.
The Gospel “Go Tell It on the Mountain” impresses with bluesy rhythm guitar and amazing ukulele playing, and he makes his solo acoustic ukulele sing on “Blue Christmas.” With a Beard Gold Tone Resonator Dobro he turns the Yiddish song “Chanukah Oh Chanukah” into a brilliant Americana melody with great finger picking on the ukulele… my favorite.
With his latest acquisition, the aNueNue Gerald Ross Signature Tenor Ukulele, he delivers “Rockin ‘Around the Christmas Tree” and once again shows what he can do with this often underrated instrument.
“Mistletoe Mazel Tov” is the fifth album by Ross – four were recorded on the ukulele and one on the guitar. I enjoyed his laid-back arrangements – he is a virtuoso.[translated]
Folk World European Webzine
It makes perfect sense that Gerald Ross, in his hilarious way, would record and present a CD that brings together Jews, Christians and anyone else who loves a party. For partying is what this album is all about. The high-spirited sounds of ukulele, and steel guitar provide lightness and sparkle to any gathering of friends and family. And, the well-known, beautifully played tunes on this purely instrumental album also make perfect background music. And that’s important; for when a roomful of people are talking and laughing together instrumentals support the ambience far better than songs with lyrics.
The album also gets us thinking of the strong links between Jewish and Christian holiday celebrations. A huge proportion of songs: Let It Snow, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Silver Bells for example (all featured on the disc) were written by Jewish songwriters. In fact most of the text in Handel’s Messiah (not on the disc) comes from Old Testament scripture. Conversely, Chanukah, traditionally one of the more minor events in the Jewish calendar, has scaled up over time ensuring that the two faiths can party on an equal footing. These days Chanukah tunes such as Sevivon Sov Sov Sov and Chanukah Oh Chanukah are becoming familiar seasonal sounds to many non-Jewish friends.
And that’s what makes Mistletoe Mazel Tov the best possible kind of holiday album! Get it, you won’t regret it.
Ralph Shaw: King of the Ukulele!
All tunes are very well arranged and the playing is magnificent throughout, listening to the CD is a pleasant and most enjoyable experience… keeps swinging through all 16 tracks, highly recommended!
Reviewer: Jørgen Larsen
read more at “Keep [It] Swinging”
Gerald always performs brilliantly and his timing can’t be beat. He puts a lot into his production quality and you can hear it in everything he produces. This is one great collection and I’ll be listening to it frequently. I do have to say that once my wife gets her hands on this CD, it will be a while before I see it again. If you love swing, and I most certainly do, this CD is a must for your collection.
Ukulele Player Magazine
What impresses me about Mr. Ross is that the instrument he is playing is irrelevant, although I am in love with the uke and the things it can do. The music is in this man and will come out regardless of the medium used. It just so happens the tool he is using is the ukulele. If you are interested in taking your playing to the next level, then this CD is must have to your collection. One can only hope that Mr. Ross will be contacted by Homespun or Guitar Workshop to make a teaching DVD, which I would purchase in a second!
A fan via Amazon.com
A longtime mainstay on the uke scene, Gerald Ross can usually be found playing and teaching at a workshop, camp, festival, summit, retreat, or gathering somewhere across the United States or Europe. Despite his busy schedule, Ross (who’s also proficient on guitar and lap steel) somehow finds time to record, and Absolute Uke, his sixth uke album, is a textbook showcase for his engaging style and crafty arrangements.
Absolute Uke offers 14 percolating instrumentals of familiar jazz standards, Latin-flavored numbers, and show tunes — most feature Ross’ own genial guitar accompaniment, while three of the tracks are for solo-uke excursions.
Jazz fans will immediately recognize the changes on songs like Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” (a staple of Duke Ellington’s band), swing classic “Rose Room” (popularized by Benny Goodman’s Sextet), and George Gershwin’s “Sweet and Lowdown,” a rollicking piano tune that translates amazingly well to our favorite four-string and finds Ross at his fleet-fingered best.
Of particular note is the Latin-tinged fare: Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa-nova smash “Wave” sounds as if it were written for uke, while Manuel Ponce’s beloved 1912 composition “Estrellita,” arranged here for solo uke, positively glows in Ross’ capable hands.
The breezy “You Belong to My Heart,” based on a Mexican bolero, features a nifty, relaxed blend of single-string runs and chord melodies. Elsewhere, Ross turns “Matchmaker,” from Fiddler on the Roof, into a delicate and melancholy waltz, while the popular fiddle tune “Westphalia Waltz” lopes merrily along.
All too often, standards arranged for ukulele can sound like novelties or thin approximations.
But Ross’ arrangements sound totally organic, conveying the true spirit of the tunes while displaying his impressive uke technique.
Ukulele Magazine, Fall 2015
Gerald Ross sets a high bar for Uke players. You may be surprised that you are listening to music played on a ukulele. Gerald does things on a Uke not very often heard. He plays Jazz and he plays it very well. This album swings. Sample a couple of the tunes like TAKE THE A TRAIN OR SEPTEMBER SONG. Absolutely beautiful! If you like uncluttered arrangements that are pure and elegant, you’ll love this album and play it over and over, it’s that good. If you are a uke player you already know about Gerald Ross. His videos on YouTube are worth listening to even if you are not a player.
In conclusion…..GET THIS ALBUM