Jake Shimabukuro: Grand Ukulele

Guest Post By: Brendan

I think it’s safe to say that Jake Shimabukuro is the king of living ukulele players. His version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is justifiably legendary – you can hear it as part of this Coverville podcast. Jake’s most recent album is Grand Ukulele, an Alan Parsons project. The string arrangements work better on some songs than others, my favorite here being “Over The Rainbow.” I also loved his version of “Rolling in the Deep,” which you can stream below. My favorite original track on the album is “Missing Three,” written when Shimabukuro’s ukulele was missing its third string. The track was recorded with said three-string ukulele and backed by a twenty-nine piece orchestra.

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Jake Shimabukuro Official Site

Ukulele Party!

Guest Post by: Brendan

Muruch Editor Vic may not have been fond of Amanda Palmer’s ukulele era, but I’ve been enjoying her performance of popular Radiohead hits on her Magical Ukulele:

Even more awesome is the fact that she brought her ukulele to C-Span.

Amanda’s Ukulele anthem is among the free downloads available from her Soundcloud page.

“The Guacamole Ukulele Song” by Lauren Fairweather and Lena Gabrielle will worm its way into your head and stay there forever. You have been warned:

Guacamole Ukulele by Lauren Fairweather

Here’s Jake Shimabukuro covering Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”:

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Over The Rainbow” is perhaps the most heard Ukulele cover. He was profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Finally, I dare you to sit still during this NPR Tiny Desk Concert from Tune-Yards (mp3).

Jake Shimabukuro: My Life EP

Jake Shimabukuro is back with the My Life EP, which features new ukulele covers of songs by Sarah McLachlan, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Judy Garland, and Cyndi Lauper. The track listing is below. The new set seems a little bland compared to the more innovative arrangements on his previous release Gently Weeps, which was disappointing since he covers my favourite song of all time (“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”) and one of my fave Zep tunes (“Going To California”). Still, Jake’s music is always pretty and peaceful and most certainly unique.

My Life EP Tracklisting:

1. Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
2. Going to California (Led Zeppelin)
3. In My Life (The Beatles)
4. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland)
5. Here, There, and Everywhere (The Beatles)
6. Ice Cream (Sarah McLachlan)

Jake Shimabukuro Official Site
Jake on MySpace
Buy the EP or Mp3s

Jake Shimabukuro: Gently Weeps

Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro’s 2006 release, Gently Weeps, is a collection of his own original material and a nice selection of covers transformed into instrumentals. Jake has been playing the ukulele since age four, experimentally amplifying the instrument with various guitar pedals. He recently performed at Mountain Stage, and has toured or recorded with Fiona Apple, Diana Krall, Chris Tile, John Hiatt, Kaki King, Jamie Cullum, Les Paul, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Jimmy Buffett, and Ziggy Marley among many others. Gently Weeps showcases Jake’s intricate, often speedy, and very diverse ukulele technique, and he is joined on the album by other musicians playing piano, percussion, and steel and electric guitars.

The album opens with a cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that begins softly before building into a flying ukulele frenzy. Next up is “Ave Maria”, which is just as lovely and angelic as strummed on Jake’s ukulele as any vocal version I’ve heard.

Other covers on the disc include the traditional Japanese folk song, “Sakura”, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “Spain”, and a beautiful rendition of “Misty”.

Jake’s originals “Wish On My Star” and “Breathe” are quite pretty and gentle, while steel guitar lends a classic country tone to “Angel”. The faster “Let’s Dance” has a slight Latin flavour, and those fingers really fly on “Grandma’s Groove”.

Gently Weeps also has five bonus tracks, including a version of “Wish On My Star” with vocals by Jennifer Perri and a surprising rock band explosion on “Beyond The Break”.

I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at Jake’s MySpace.

Jake Shimabukuro’s Official Site

Buy the CD