Tonight I want to introduce a fabulous musician, Jake Shimabukuro, who I compare to jazz and rock guitar greats like Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, and even a little Jimi Hendrix. But he doesn’t play the guitar…he plays the Ukulele. He started playing the instrument at the age of 4, as every Hawaiian plays it, at least according to his mother. He immediately fell in love with it and enrolled in a prominent ukulele studio. But rather than play traditional Hawaiian music, he was entranced by the sounds of rock. He’d play along with pop and rock songs, arranging them to make the melody recognizable, not an easy task when you only have four strings
For guitar inspiration and technique, he studied musicians like Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Yo-Yo Ma and Pat Metheny, but Bruce Lee and Bill Cosby get the credit for his philosophy of music and performing. He says, “Bruce Lee’s philosophy on martial arts was that it’s a form of human expression, and he didn’t believe in having one ‘style.’ He studied all forms and was open to everything. That really stuck in my mind as far as music goes. And Bill Cosby – here’s a performer who can just sit in a chair with a mic, tell stories and entrance millions of people. I wanted to tap into that energy, of just performing alone and connecting with an audience.”
His career skyrocketed after a TV appearance in New York, where the producers of a local TV show called “Ukulele Disco” asked him to play a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in Central Park. It was posted on YouTube where it went viral with over 6 million views. Since then, Jake has performed with Jimmy Buffett, Bela Fleck, Bette Midler, Yo-Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Tommy Emmanuel, and Ziggy Marley. When you here him play, I think you’ll agree, he’s living and playing his philosophy very successfully. Enjoy!
Crosscurrent with Chris Burgan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOJLhK1NOL8&feature=related
While my guitar gently weeps with Tommy Emmanuel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnJfo74Y4rQ&feature=related
Bohemian Rhapsody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snPQ1z5FoqQ&feature=related
Time after time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlq4hhFvLHQ&feature=related
Going to California: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1ed0IgD7Sg&feature=related
Blue roses falling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcYrHNideSM&feature=related
Me & Shirley T: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjfAuxBsvE&feature=related
How about champagne to go with Jake’s music? Specifically a bottle of Duval Leroy Brut Champagne made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes by a century-and-a-half old, family-owned Champagne firm. This champagne comes from twenty vineyards around the Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs areas in France and it’s one of the more modestly priced champagne entries from Duval-Leroy. It’s a tad over my usual $25.00 limit (it was $27.00), but it’s worth the couple of extra bucks.
In the glass, Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne shows a light honey color, with streams of fine bubbles. On the nose, there is vanilla, peach, toast and a bit of yeastiness.
The palate shows a clean middle, evenly balanced of weight and acids. Flavors are of light pineapple, peaches, toast, and slight cream. Very clean finish. Wine Spectator was wild about the Duval-Leroy Brut, giving 93 points, and saying, " "Big, full-bodied bubbly featuring graphite, toast, lemon and nut aromas and flavors. It's balanced, with an assertive finish.” I would agree and although it’s a bit unconventional to be drinking champagne mid-week, it pairs perfectly with the unconventional style of Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele music. Enjoy!