Musicians With Nimble Fingers – Over the past two decades, Jake Shimabukuro has proven that there is no style of music he can’t play. While his versatility is impressive for any musician, what’s surprising about Shimabukuro’s transcendent skills is how he explores an unlimited vocabulary – be it jazz, rock, blues, bluegrass, folk or classical – with the least expected instrument: the ‘ukulele. Responding to the urgent call of his passionate imagination, the Hawaiian-born artist took the ukulele to levels previously thought impossible, and in the process reinvented an application for this tiny, now underappreciated four-string, leading many to call him “the Jimi Hendrix of the ‘ukulele.”
Humbly, the talented musician, who first picked up the ukulele at the age of four, says, “From the moment I started playing it was natural and fun. I like all kinds of music, so I didn’t. Think, ‘Oh, I can’t play the ukulele. They, then no one can stop you. .”
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Shimabukuro’s incredible journey has taken him from local phenomenon to YouTube sensation, from playing small clubs to headlining some of the world’s most prestigious concerts such as the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and the Sydney Opera House. He has appeared on major TV shows and released a string of award-winning and chart-topping albums. Most recently, he was nominated by President Joe Biden as a member of the National Council on the Arts.
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It’s fair to say that Shimabukuro has picked up more than a few fans – millions, in fact – but it wasn’t until he launched his latest album that he discovered how many fans he was, in fact, his own musical hero. .
“Jake & Friends” is not the first album to feature famous guests alongside the main players, but in terms of size and scope, and considering the number of legendary stars lending their ineffable talents, it can only be compared to a benchmark duet album. The likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and it’s a shining testament to how far the singularly talented Shimabukuro has come. Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Jon Anderson, Ziggy Marley, Moon Taxi, Warren Haynes, Jack Johnson, Jesse Colin Young, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, , Luke Nelson, Billy Strings – Shimabukuro’s own head spins when looking at the high-wattage guest list. “I had to pinch myself when I saw that name on my own album,” he said. “What really happened?’ Making the album was a real challenge, but I’m very happy that all the artists agreed to record with me.
Two years in the making, “Jake & Friends” began with a simple idea featuring two or three guest stars, but the concept quickly evolved into an album featuring Shimabukuro, sometimes backed by regular band members (bassist Nolan Werner. and guitarist Dave). Preston), working with a different guest artist on each track. “Sometimes we record original songs, and other times we cover what the guests want,” he says. “Also, we did new versions of our own songs, which was really fun.” Willie Nelson was the first artist to participate and notably chose his signature song, “Stardust,” first recorded over 40 years ago. The unique pairing produces a magical result – Shimabukuro’s soft ukulele lines form an intimate foundation for Nelson’s beautiful vocals. “I was really nervous the night before the cut,” said Shimabukuro, “but Willie immediately put me at ease, and when it was over I felt ready for whatever was to come.
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Shimabukuro already knows Bette Midler — in 2010, the two performed with Queen Elizabeth II, and when he approached Divine Miss M (who was born in Hawaii. ), she asked him to cover her mother’s favorite song, “The Rose.” Midler sounds heavenly in the Stark version but at her best shimmering Golden Globe-winning, and Shimabukuro’s graceful, poignant playing serves as the perfect accompaniment. “Recording the song with Bette was a big deal for me, because I knew my mom would love it.”
For years, Shimabukuro enjoyed touring with one of his musical heroes, Jimmy Buffett, and one of his favorite concerts was “Come Monday,” Buffett’s first single from 1974, with his friend and mentor on stage. . So it’s only fitting that the two reprise their heartwarming renditions on “Jake & Friends.” “I really love ‘Come Monday,’ and I’ve been blessed to perform it many times on stage with Jimmy,” Shimabukuro said. “Jimmy is an amazing writer, singer and musician, and I’ve never known a song as transformative as this one. It was really fun to record with him.
“Apa Ora,” written and sung by multi-platinum hitmaker and movie soundtrack king Kenny Loggins, is a delicious slice of upbeat soul-pop with hooks for the day and sets pulses racing. “Working with Kenny was a lot of fun,” Shimabukuro said. “We started out simply doing things, but after we got going, Kenny wanted to try different ideas, and I let him go. Watching him do that was a real education in record making.
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Joining the popular Nashville alt-rock band Moon Taxi, Shimabukuro revisited the group’s 2017 hit “To High” and invited singer-guitarist Trevor Terndrup, a fellow ukulele aficionado, to join him on the instrument. The new version is quieter and sparser than the original, but there’s drama in the softer moments – the intuitive interplay between the musicians pulls you in and keeps you engaged. Inspired by the universal peace symbol for hope, it’s a bright and breezy balm for troubled times. “Recording with Moon Taxi was amazing,” says Shimabukuro. “When I heard that song, I had to listen to it again. It was so upbeat and positive – exactly what we wanted for the new album. Trevor has an incredible voice and he can destroy the ‘ukulele! And [guitarist] Spencer. Thomson holds the rhythm and does all the flow. It’s great to collaborate with him. It’s a pleasure.
Fans who want to enjoy all instruments will love “Smokin’ Strings” written by Shimabukuro and performed by bluegrass guitar sensation Billy Strings. A lilting, elegant dance suddenly explodes into a red-hot hoedown. And who else should perform Shimabukuro’s original composition “Sunny Days Ahead” but blues guitar icon Sonny Landreth? Fun and friendly, this folk-tinged track is an inspiring, transporting musical exchange between the masters.
One of Shimabukuro’s dreams is to jam with Allman Brothers/Govt Mule guitarist and singer Warren Haynes, and he gets his wish on “Jake and Friends,” the duo throwing it down in epic style while reading blues-rock. Classic “On the Road to Freedom” Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre’s 1973 original runs just under four minutes, but with the nimble fingers of Shimabukuro and Haynes, it’s now a 13-minute performance of Braura’s music with Haynes on vocals. “It shouldn’t have taken long,” Shimabukuro says with a laugh, “but when we were mixing it, I said, ‘Maine Warren is great — let’s go!’
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The Beatles always loomed large in Shimabukuro’s repertoire (he scored one of his first hits with a glowing version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”), and on “Jake & Friends” he added not one, not two, but three of the Fab Four. Ratna joined legendary Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley (son of reggae icons Bob and Rita Marley) for a rendition of “All You Need Is Love,” a smash hit 50 years ago. in the past
Shimabukuro and yes singing legend Jon Anderson pull off some masterstrokes on “A Day in the Life.” Using spare instruments – Dave Preston on guitar and Evan Hutchings on drums – the track explodes with the same hallucinatory wonder as the original Beatles as the two lead players explore the outer limits of their unique musical gifts. “In the studio, we went wild,” says Shimabukuro. “There are four ‘ukulele tracks and seven John vocal tracks. John’s voice is a new epic.”
George Harrison’s “Something” is one of the greatest love songs ever written, and now one of the most moving versions is a collaboration between Shimabukuro and country stars (and real-life husband and wife) Vince Gill and Amy Grant. The two singers don’t just lend a voice; They bring their own romantic experience of connection
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