JAKE SHIMABUKURO Peace Love Ukulele ( Hitch­hike Records)

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“ The ukulele,” says Jake Shimabukuro, “is the in­stru­ment of peace — and if ev­ery­one played the ukulele, the world would be a bet­ter place.” On his new al­bum, the Hawaii na­tive shows off his vir­tu­oso tech­nique and a full emo­tional spec­trum. The ukulele has per­haps been given short shrift as a solo­ing in­stru­ment be­cause of its rather limited range: four strings pro­vid­ing notes over just two oc­taves. Shimabukuro took it up at 4 and set about be­com­ing an ex­pert on the in­stru­ment, in­clud­ing by play­ing along with pop songs on the ra­dio. The opener on Peace Love Ukulele is the cheer­ful “ 143.” It’s an ex­am­ple of the CD’s songs on which the leader is backed by bass, key­boards, or­gan and strings. Other cuts are pared down, as is the case with Fred­die Mer­cury’s “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” which was pop­u­lar­ized by Queen 35 years ago. Shimabukuro’s cover is won­der­fully sweet. “Bring Your Adz” is a rocker that’s rem­i­nis­cent of John Fa­hey’s “ The Last Steam En­gine Train,” while the fun, bright, and beau­ti­ful “ Boy Meets Girl” re­calls the B-52s’ “ Fol­low Your Bliss.” Other high­lights are the stir­ring “Go for Broke,” in­spired by Ja­panese-Amer­i­can vet­er­ans of World War II; the dra­matic “Trapped,” fea­tur­ing duets with vi­o­lin­ist Iggy Jang; and an un­com­pli­cated but spir­ited in­stru­men­tal trans­la­tion of Leonard Co­hen’s “Hal­lelu­jah.”

— Paul Wei­de­man

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