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Jake Shimabukuro: Live

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Album Review

Whenever virtuosic players of exotic instruments come along, they're called the Jimi Hendrix of the (blank). Béla Fleck was the Jimi Hendrix of the banjo and more recently, Jake Shimabukuro has been hailed as the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele. Shimabukuro's style is nothing like that of Hendrix, but what's a lazy critic to do? Shimabukuro is a monster musician and boldly takes the ukulele where no ukulele has ever gone before, dazzling listeners with his blinding speed, melodic invention, and open-ended improvisations of remarkable virtuosity. Before Shimabukuro, the idea of spending an evening listing to a solo ukulele player was probably most people's idea of hell, but the 17 solo efforts here never bore. They show Shimabukuro's range and his humor as well. He plays Michael Jackson's "Thriller" with hammered-on overtones, flamenco flurries, funky slapped chords, and lightning-fast single-note runs while staying true to the song's rhythm and melody. On "Sakura Sakura" he plays a traditional Japanese folk song, mimicking the sound of a koto with flurries of 32 notes, single plucked strings that drop shimmering overtones into the air, and dramatic slurred notes. For "Wes on Four" he borrows the style of Mr. Montgomery for a jazzy improvisation that will leave your jaw hanging open, then takes on Chick Corea's "Spain," filling the air with hard single notes that explode like popcorn before moving on to interlocking rhythmic patterns accented by percussive slap-on accents. His attack is so fierce that it's hard to believe that the sound is coming from an acoustic instrument. He plays flamenco on "Let's Dance: Prelude," making the uke sound like an electric guitar again, then moves into "Let's Dance," a funky piece that alternates between thumping rhythmic accents and syncopated single notes. While Live is not exactly a greatest-hits album, Shimabukuro does reprise a few of his best-known interpretations, including his cover of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," turning it into a dramatic tour de force without sacrificing any of the tune's original beauty. His transcription of Bach's Two-Part Invention No. 4 in D minor only takes a minute to play, but it leaves a lasting impression with an interpretation that's sublime in its understated way and an impressive contrast to his aggressive playing on "Spain" and "Thriller." ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Way back in the way back - we used to listen to a Hawaiian Boy Band called PURE HEART... They were sort of Hawaii's version of Boys to Men / New Kids On The Block... They had a whole lot of Aloha Spirit & a lot of FUN! You know - how it is when you spend your life on a tropical island playing in the SUN! Jake was Pure Heart's Heart & Soul... A Ukeulele Savant for sure... We refered to him as; "Jimi Hendrix on the Uke' " Well many years later - Jake has grown up... & like a fine wine - he has matured into one of the most spectacular musical talents in the world! You think I'm exagerating? Pour yourself something cool - position yourself in a sun drenched relaxing spot & take a listen... If by the end of "JS LIVE" you don't agree - your next Mai Tai is on me... see you @ The Moana Surfrider Beach bar @ SunSet - you can buy me a Mai Tai if you like... Oooo & if the aloha karma is shimmering with the trade winds - we might catch Jake Live.... hahahaha That's the great thing about Hawaiian music - no matter how big they become - they'll still play the local gigs - & stay humble while blowing your mind. Jake's Live is a Laid-Back Hawaiian Time Aloha Spirit CLASSIC - Shaka Brah... Thanks Jake - You're The MAN! Keep Strumming those Tunes... I'm Loving every Note! MAHALO :~)


If you get the opportunity to see Shimabukuro perform live, GO. You get so much from his show. A stellar performance and a musical lesson all in one. I found him when surfing the net for Lyle Ritz. What a find!!!! The best thing about this musician is that he tries to see what can be accomplished within what some would call the confines of the ukulele. There's a limited register--and yet he accomplishes so much. Jazz, classical, classic rock, BLUEGRASS, 80's pop, percussive use of the strings and uke, flamenco... It's amazing! He's stretching the boundaries of the ukulele. Leave your grass skirt at home! (I can type that b/c I have one.) The Bach is great. Look for him in an upcoming film on Bach. What talent!

Really iTunes?

I love Jake's music and I'm all for buying this whole album, which I just did.. but I couldn't help but notice the fact that it's 99 cents for a 12 second song.. come on iTunes, be fair. This is why people just decide to steal music, it's easier.


Born: November 3, 1976 in Honolulu, HI

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro has taken the four-string, two-octave instrument to places no one could have imagined back in the golden years of Don Ho, ranging freely across the music spectrum from jazz, blues, and funk to bluegrass, classical, and folk with the ease of a musician fully in command of the possibilities of his chosen instrument. Born November 3, 1976 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Shimabukuro was given his first ukulele lesson by his mother when he was only four years old. Fascinated by the...
Full Bio
Jake Shimabukuro: Live, Jake Shimabukuro
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, New Age
  • Released: Apr 14, 2009

Customer Ratings