Ukulele, a Versatile Instrument of Peace

Jake Shimabukuro - Peace Love Ukulele
Jake Shimabukuro

Peace Love Ukulele (Hitchhike Records HRCD1112, 2010)

Hawaiian ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro has released Peace Love Ukulele this month. This is a fascinating collection of original pieces and covers, which cross musical boundaries, including rock, jazz, folk and classical, showcasing multiple forms of ukulele virtuosity.

Even though all the tracks on ‘Peace Love Ukulele’ were arranged as solo ukulele pieces, Shimabukuro uses a band with drums, bass and keyboards, giving him more depth and creative choices. He also uses orchestral arrangements on “Five Dollars Unleaded” and marching drums on “Go for Broke,” a tribute to Japanese American soldiers in World War II. “So many of those soldiers were based in Hawaii,” he says. “I wanted to show my appreciation for what they did – as a Japanese American, I have a better life today because of the sacrifices they made. ‘Go for broke’ was their motto, which means to risk everything on one great effort to win big.”

One of the most challenging covers was Queen’s rock hit Bohemian Rhapsody. “Covers on the ukulele are hard!” Jake says. “You can simplify any song, but to actually come up with an arrangement that’s respectful to the composer is quite a challenge. With ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ I tried to differentiate the vocal line from the piano line and guitar…It was tough, but really paid off. When I play it live, people usually just shake their head and laugh.”

Jake Shimabukuro is a formidable ukulele player who has a passion for many forms of music, transcending all categories. His music is beautifully crafted and easily accessible. “The ukulele is the instrument of peace,” he says. “And if everyone played one, the world would be a better place.”

Buy the album:

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and 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 albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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