Web Exclusive! Reviewed: Ukulele Virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro Live

April 2, 2009
Jake Live


I’ll never forget the first time I saw Jake play. Truth be told, I only went to get his very tenacious publicist off my back. I lived in the islands as a kid. I knew what ukulele music sounded like. It took about ten seconds into Jake’s performance to realize I had no idea what ukulele music could be. He proceeded to floor me and everyone else in the crowd with a mind-boggling display of touch, tone, timing, technique, and soul. If you’ve seen him, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, his new live album, curiously titled Live, is as good an introduction as you can get without actually catching one of his gigs. The lilting “Piano-Forte” is an incredible showcase of how many colors he can draw from his instrument, making it sound like a harp and a classical guitar as he creates harmonics and beautiful melodies. His version of Chick Corea’s “Spain” is unbelievably intricate, with voicings that would be tough on a 6-string instrument. Like always he brings the house down with his now-famous version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Simply put, there is no one like this guy. Check this record out! Hitchhike. —Matt Blackett

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