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James Hill - A Flying Leap

A Flying Leap

James Hill

(BCD174)

Borealis Records
225 Sterling Road, Unit 19
Toronto, Ontario M6R 282 Canada

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Linton Corbie
(corbs@erols.com)

"Wow! Is that really a ukulele???!!"

For those whose exposure to the ukulele has been limited to the late Tiny Tim's rendition of, Tip-Toe Through the Tulips, you will be amazed at what intricate and sophisticated music this humble, little, four-stringed instrument is capable of reproducing when in the hands of a virtuoso player. And if you doubt this assertion, you will find ample evidence to make you a believer by checking out, A Flying Leap, the latest CD by the renowned ukulele player, James Hill.

Unlike some of the other ukulele virtuosos currently making names for themselves, Hill does not seem to be concerned with flash or drawing attention to his amazing chops; rather, he puts his technique in service to the music. Honestly, Hill does this so well that once one gets over the fact that he is actually playing a ukulele, this fact is almost forgotten as one quickly becomes immersed in enjoying the beautiful music being performed.

Speaking about the music, the CD consists mostly of original Hill compositions, including a lovely mini suite in three movements that is accompanied by violins and cello which is aptly titled, One Small Suite for Ukulele. There is also, Little Wing, a composition by Jimi Hendrix on which Hill plays both acoustic and electric ukuleles. Hill's very spirited and joyful interpretation of the classic, Never on Sunday, by Greek composer, Manos Hadjidakis, is my favorite track on the CD.

Accompaniment on A Flying Leap, is extremely sparse, consisting usually of acoustic bass guitar and a small assortment of devices used for percussion that range from the typical (tambourine and shaker) to the unconventional (phone book and spoons). Such a limited instrumental lineup allows the ukulele (acoustic) to be consistently in the forefront-a major plus for ukulele players who may be ambitious enough to attempt learning these tunes.

Whether or not you are a ukulele player, I heartily recommend that you get A Flying Leap, by James Hill.

TRACKS:

  • Uke Talk (Doane)
  • Song For Cheri (Hill)
  • Down Rideau Canal (Hill)
  • Little Wing (Hendrix)
  • One Small Suite for Ukulele (Hill)
    • Allegro con brio
    • Largo cantabile
    • Vivace giocoso
  • Fleas My Dog Has (Hill)
  • Skipping Stone (Hill)
  • Never On Sunday (Hadjidakis)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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