Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

211

Jake Shimabukuro: Gently Weeps

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Pity the poor ukulele. Consigned to a less-than-respectable fate thanks to Tiny Tim and movies like Elvis Presley's Paradise, Hawaiian Style, this small four-string cousin to the guitar just can't get any respect. Jake Shimabukuro has been working hard to change that over the past few years on albums like Skyline (Epic, 2003) and Dragon (Hitchhike, 2005). But while earlier recordings have placed Shimabukuro's diminutive instrument in larger group settings, Gently Weeps is all the more remarkable for being a solo recording, representative of recent touring activity. Who would have thought a ukulele could sound so big?

Shimabukuro's earlier records also focus on his writing skills, but these twelve tracks are split evenly between his own compositions and covers of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Chick Corea's "Spain and Schubert's "Ave Maria. It's no surprise that Béla Fleck, who has literally reinvented his instrument in musical contexts that include jazz, classical and world music, is a big fan. Shimabukuro is clearly as stylistically broad as the intrepid banjoist. On "Ave Maria he trills the melody on the top string, supported by arpeggios on the other three, achieving a surprisingly full sound. His rubato take on "The Star-Spangled Banner is all the more remarkable for his ability to imply richer voicings than are actually possible with only four strings.

On "Spain he demonstrates the kind of dexterity and on-the-toes thinking that suggest the same kind of jazz chops that Fleck has brought to the banjo. "Misty begins with rapid strumming, but settles into a more relaxed vibe and even a hint of swing as he shifts tempo halfway through for a chordal solo that again demonstrates a surprisingly extensive language.

Shimabukuro's own tunes reflect similar breadth. "Wish on My Star is a delicate ballad, while "Let's Dance has a taste of flamenco. "Blue Roses Falling hints at Americana and even a touch of Ry Cooder, while Grandma's Groove proves you can indeed bend notes on a ukulele.

The forty-minute solo set is fleshed out with five bonus tracks, largely written for television and film, featuring Shimabukuro in group settings. Both "Angel and "Hula Girl could fit into a Ry Cooder soundtrack, the former a gentle ballad with a Tex-Mex vibe, the latter more propulsive and anthemic. "Beyond the Break rocks hard, with Shimabukuro's processed ukulele layered over a power trio of guitar, bass and drums.

Forget your preconceptions. Gently Weeps is a record that, if there's any justice, should do for the ukulele what Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (Warner Bros., 1990) did for the banjo.


Track Listing: While My Guitar Gently Weeps; Ave Maria; Wish on My Star; Sakura; The Star-Spangled Banner; Let's Dance; Misty; Spain; Heartbeat/Dragon; Blue Roses Falling; Grandma's Groove; Breathe. Bonus Tracks: Angel; Lazy Jane; Hula Girl; Beyond the Break; Wish on My Star (vocal version).

Personnel: Jake Shimabukoru: ukulele; Sean Carroll: drums (13,15); Michael Grande: keys (13,15); Jack Otoia: guitar and bass (13); Jon Porlas Jr.: percussion (13,15); Bobby Ingano: (13); Noel Okimoto: drums (14); Dean Taba: bass (14); Bobby Nishida: guitar (14); Mark Tanouye: bass (15); Vernon Sakata: electric guitar (15); Darin Enomoto: drums (16); Sergio Galisa: bass (16); Dan Takamune: electric guitar (16); Jennifer Perri: vocal (17); Yasharu Nakanishi: piano (17); Tashimi Nishiumi: guitar (17); Hiroyuki Noritake: drums (17); Akira Okazawa: bass (17); Udal Shika String Quartet: strings (17).

Title: Gently Weeps | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Hitchhike Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Big Man on Campus" CD/LP/Track Review Big Man on Campus
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Trio / Chinese Jesus" CD/LP/Track Review Trio / Chinese Jesus
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Joy Comes Back" CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "The Failure of Words" CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Nuit Blanche" CD/LP/Track Review Nuit Blanche
by John Kelman
Published: February 14, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!