Jake Shimabukuro hits the road with the release of his new CD. Photo by Sencame
Shimabukuro releases 'Grand Ukulele'
By Simplicio Paragas
With all the fame and fortune that the ukulele has brought him, Jake Shimabukuro quips that he picked a good instrument. Released in October, his latest CD, “Grand Ukulele,” once again shows why the talented 35-year-old musician has been heralded the “Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele.” Indeed, the ukulele has gained much more street cred and moved light years from Tiny Tim tiptoeing through the tulips, thanks to the Honolulu native.
“I think, though, I’ve just scratched the tip of the surface with the ukulele,” says Shimabukuro, who recently became a dad to son Chase. “It’s a young instrument in terms of exposure but it’s old in age, dating back to the late 1800s; it has tons of room to grow and so much potential.”
For this latest project, Shimabukuro collaborated with Alan Parsons, a well-regarded producer who has helped engineer such classics as the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon.” Showcasing a mélange of cover tracks and original pieces, “Grand Ukulele” combines a multitude of genres, syncopating from classical and blues to flamenco and mandolin to rock and bluegrass.
One of his favorite tracks is “Missing Three,” named so because while changing his uke’s strings, he purposely left out No. 3. “It’s a cool song,” Shimabukuro says. “The irony is I wrote the song with only the first, second and fourth string in mind but it ended up being recorded with a full 29-piece orchestra.”
“Gentlemandolin” was written for his son Chase and with “Akaka Falls,” Shimabukuro offers an acoustic taste of traditional and contemporary island rhythms. The CD also features covers of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and the Judy Garland classic “Over the Rainbow.”
Between the premier of the film “Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings” at last month’s HIFF and the release of his ninth CD, Shimabukuro has taken the four-string, two-octave instrument to new heights. And he has taken it on the road, too, performing at 40 cities across the US, Canada and Japan. On November 24, he’ll take a break from his tour and return to play at the inaugural “Jake & Friends” concert at Hawaii Theatre.
“I hope this will be the first of many to come,” Shimabukuro says. “It’s exciting but I’m still trying to get friends to play with me.”
For information about the new CD and the concert tour, visit jakeshimabukuro.com.