Roam­ing ukulele hits Nashville

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FIFTY PLUS - By Pablo Gorondi

Jake Shimabukuro, “Nashville Ses­sions” (JS Records)

Jake Shimabukuro draws sounds both tra­di­tional and in­no­va­tive from his ukulele on “Nashville Ses­sions,” an ad­ven­tur­ous, daz­zling al­bum.

Us­ing the in­stru­ment from his na­tive Hawaii to ex­plore a va­ri­ety of styles in the com­pany of drum­mer Evan Hutch­ings and bassist Nolan Verner, Shimabukuro broad­ens his sonic pal­ette on 11 orig­i­nal compositions stretch­ing from jazz fu­sion to rock and be­yond.

The 39-year-old vir­tu­oso sticks to the in­stru­ment’s nat­u­ral voice on “Gal­lop­ing Sea­horses” but flies across the fret­board as Hutch­ings ex­tracts in­ten­sity from all over his kit, the tune rem­i­nis­cent of vi­o­lin­ist JeanLuc Ponty’s 1970s prime. “Mo­town” has some trade­mark San­tana tones, but it’s re­ally Shimabukuro driv­ing his uke to con­quer sound­scapes it rarely ex­plores.

Closer “Ki­lauea,” named af­ter the Hawai­ian vol­cano adorn­ing the al­bum cover, flows and erupts in an ex­tended gush of scorch­ing dis­tor­tion.

Recorded in a jazz-like six days with no pre­con­cep­tions or plans, Shimabukuro’s mas­tery of the in­stru­ment, the abil­i­ties of his band­mates and the va­ri­ety of the tunes on “Nashville Ses­sions” add up to a very en­joy­able ef­fort.

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