Jake Shimabukuro is one of the most exciting up-and-coming
musicians today. Already compares to greats like Hendrix and Clapton for his
ability and innovation, word of Jake’s breathtaking talent spread worldwide
when a video clip of him playing George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently
Weeps began circulating the internet last year. Word about the Hawaiian-born
ukulele virtuoso is still spreading. Sold-out crowds and standing ovations
were a nightly occurrence on his second US tour. Capturing the energy of his
live show, Gently Weeps features solo performance repertoire that’s causing
fans from Los Angeles to New York and New Orleans to Chicago to hail Jake as
the next musical legend. You’ll forget all the Tiny Tim, Don Ho,
and Hawaiian-music jokes about the ukulele when you hear Gently Weeps, which
leaves behind the Roaring Twenties strum and plinky-dink sound of most such
music. Jake Shimabukuro sets the tone with the lead-off track from which he
takes the album’s title, George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,”
unfolding the vulnerable undertow of Harrison’s epic lament. A string of
covers follows, as Shimabukuro touches the serene with Schubert’s “Ave Maria,”
evokes a Japanese koto on a Zen-like version of “Sakura,” and turns “The Star-
Spangled Banner” into a lament. But Shimabukuro’s original tunes are just as
full of plucked nuance, especially “Heartbeat Dragon,” where he uses a slight
delay to create a quietly joyful Celtic air. However, don’t think it’s all
wistful melancholy. Shimabukuro whips it out on original tracks like “Let’s
Dance,” alternating hard rhythmic chops with flamenco-like strums. His take on
Erroll Garner’s “Misty” is a little jive, though I’m sure the hot jazz middle-
section pumps the crowds up. Chick Corea’s “Spain” fares much better and still
scores high on the flash quotient. You just can’t keep a fret-burner down,
even when his fretboard is toy-sized. You can’t keep the Hawaiian out either.
Its gentle sway turns up on the sweetly laconic “Angel.” A few bonus tracks of
generic fusion at the end detract from the solo purity and intimate mood that
Shimabukuro creates, but Gently Weeps is a joy until then. –John Diliberto
- Audio CD (September 19, 2006)
- Original Release Date: September 19, 2006
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Extra tracks
- Label: Hitchhike Records
- #93 in Hawaiian Music
- #93 in New Age Instrumental Music
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