Truly Grand Ukulele

Jake Shimabukuro - Grand Ukulele
Jake Shimabukuro – Grand Ukulele
Jake Shimabukuro

Grand Ukulele (Hitchhike Records HRCD 2115, 2012)

By now, ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro has become a familiar name to music fans beyond the ukulele niche. In some parts of the United States he has reached a well-deserved rock star respect. His new album is titled Grand Ukulele and this time he’s teamed up with famed British producer and engineer Alan Parsons who worked on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles’ Abbey Road and also had his own popular Alan Parsons Project.

It was very organic how it happened,” says Shimabukuro about the collaboration with Parsons. “He attended a couple of my shows near where he lives in Santa Barbara and the concert promoter put us in touch. I was stunned. I mean, THE Alan Parsons? We ended up having dinner before the show and he casually mentioned the idea of possibly working together on a project. It was a priceless opportunity I didn’t want to pass up – he’s a genius.

Parsons enhanced Jake Shimabukuro’s sound by featuring a 29-piece classical orchestra and a top of the line rhythm section on some of the pieces. Grand Ukulele flows seamlessly, mixing vibrant instrumentals with bass and drums with evocative orchestral tracks as well as delightful virtuosic solo performances and introspective moments. Guests included renowned rock and jazz drummer Simon Phillips and bassist Randy Tico.

The best thing was that, even with all those people, we recorded everything live with no overdubs,” says Shimabukuro. “It was great, tracking live with an orchestra and a rhythm section. We picked up on each other’s subtle emotional cues – you could feel everyone breathing together. It was like the old days of recording – when everyone tracked together – there’s a certain magic that happens.”

Although Shimabukuro ventured into pop and smooth jazz in the past, Grand Ukulele shows a more mature musician, with an attractive contemporary acoustic sound that presents a tasteful combination of jazz, classical, Hawaiian folk and pop. In addition, it’s good to see him play more of his own material, showcasing his talent as a composer.

There is a reason by Shimabukuro likes to play and record some cover songs, like Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’ and Adele’s ’Rolling in the Deep.’ “I visit schools in Hawaii because I love sharing my passion with kids, but I don’t necessarily play all original pieces, because the kids may not recognize them. So when I cover a popular tune like ‘Rolling In The Deep,’ they really respond!”

2013 “Grand Ukulele Tour” U.S. Dates

February 6 – Grants Pass, OR – Rogue Theatre
February 7 – Chimacum, WA – Chimacum Auditorium
February 8 – Bellingham, WA – Western Washington University
February 9 – Olympia, WA – Capitol Theatre
February 10 – Anchorage, AK – Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
February 13 – Eureka, CA – Arkley Center for the Performing Arts
February 14 – Santa Cruz, CA – Cocoanut Grove
February 15 – San Rafael, CA – Marin Center
February 21 – Agoura Hills, CA – The Canyon
February 22 – Cerritos, CA – Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts
March 2 – Atlanta, GA – Robert Ferst Theatre
March 19 – Clearwater, FL – The Capitol Theatre
March 20 – Jacksonville, FL – The Florida Theatre
March 21 – Athens, TN – Athens City Middle School Auditorium
March 22 – Memphis, TN – Buckman Performing Arts Center
March 23 – Baton Rouge, LA – Manship Theatre
April 20 – Buffalo, NY – Buffalo State Performing Arts Center
April 21 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
April 24 – Stage College, PA – The State Theatre
April 25 – Wilmington, DE – Grand Opera House
April 26 – Princeton, NJ – McCarter Theater
April 27 – Troy, NY – Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
June 7 – Greenville, SC – Peace Center for the Performing Arts
June 8 – Durham, NC – Fletcher Hall

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. He was also the executive producer of the first Latino feature film made in North Carolina titled “Los sueños de Angélica.”.

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