Well, first of all, despite how ultra-impressive this CD and all Jake's work is, you really have to see him in concert to fully appreciate what he does. The guy is without question the prime exponent of the ukulele, but he's brought the instrument well outside its customary parameters and into a realm never before guessed. Start with Let's Dance: Prelude / "Let's Dance for an example of both the elegant and speedster sides of him, then work your way slowly through the rest of the long disc, 'cause there's plenty to enjoy. 'Ere long, you'll understand why he's been lionized for more than a decade now.
Orange World is dizzyingly rapidfire, perfect articulation on such a small axe, an incredible display that blends into the equally jaw-dropping Wes on Four, a concert favorite. Chick Corea's Spain comes in for similarly stellar execution (hell, you can't even approach that tune unless you're made of sturdier stuff than one hears on the charts), leaping and frolicking. Shimabukoro then turns his uke into a highly credible version of a koto on Sakura Sakura, infinitely mindful of the staccato almost-harpsichordish nature of the elder instrument.
Jake always includes a version of George Harrison's While my Guitar Gently Weeps, as 1) he loves the song, and 2) a 4-minute video of him performing it years ago, shot by Sonic Youth, was the catch-all that launched the gent, catching on fire on YouTube, mailed and watched all around the world in huge numbers. The entire gig here is like an blown-out extension of his drop-dead killer Gently Weeps EP a year or two ago…but I'll warn that as disbelieving as you'll be that this could be just one guy playing a ukelele, it'll do nothing but raise that sense of astonishment even further when you actually see him doing everything right in front of your eyes. Catch him in real time if you can.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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