Jake's releasing this CD-EP simultaneous with a long-form, the soundtrack to the film Hula Girls, but mention must first be made of this exquisite sextet of trad renditions shimmering with beauty and quiet vivacity. In Shimabukuro's hands, the ukelele transcends itself, sounding as though strung with spun glass and shafts of sunlight. All cuts are covers of well-known tunes but laid down in a still life of aesthetic superlatives much echoing, on the abstract front, Mimi Fox and her solo guitar takes on the 2-CD version of Perpetually Hip or, closer to the straight side, Earl Klugh's trio work on Earl Klugh Trio, Vol. One. Two songs feature reductionistic accompaniment but the rest are solos, and the take on Led Zeppelin's Going to California is extraordinary. How on Earth does this guy obtain such a rich palette out of so few frets and only four strings? It beggars the imagination.
Why this young firebrand (he's 30 but looks 15!) hasn't been signed to Columbia or Blue Note is baffling. Sony covers him in Japan but talent like this must be more prominently displayed, as Shimabukuro's a phenomenon along the lines of a Stanley Jordan. Conan O'Brien featured him and his band several times but…America, were ya sleepin'? C'mon, this sort of extraordinary feat doesn't happen every damn day!! Luckily, though, each release has been better than the last, and it's only a matter of time before Jake comes fully into his own. Most definitely check out the Hula Girls release but, before or after doing so, rush to this one and have your breath taken away. The future is nothing but golden for the ukelele and this Hawaiian wunderkind.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles