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On January 4, 2011, Jake Shimabukuro will continue to revolutionize our perception of the ukulele with the release of his new album "Peace Love Ukulele," on Hitchhike Records, distributed through Mailboat Records. With drums, bass, and even orchestral strings filling in the spaces behind the ukulele, the album conveys the complete musical vision of one of the world's most original talents. "The ukulele," he says, "is the instrument of peace – and if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place."
Standout tracks on ‘Peace Love Ukulele’ include Shimabukuro’s compositions "Go For Broke," a tribute to Japanese-American WWII veterans and “143," inspired by the numeric pager code for "I love you." The rock-ukulele piece, "Bring Your Adz" takes his virtuosic playing to new heights while his version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” adds another chapter to his growing repertoire of memorable interpretations.
"Bohemian Rhapsody,” the only solo ukulele arrangement on the album, ambitiously recreates Queen’s epic rock and roll anthem. "It was quite a challenge considering the ukulele only has four strings and two octaves." Shimabukuro said.
1 – 143 (Kelly’s Song) 2011
The song "143" was inspired by Jake’s years in high school when cell phones and text messaging didn't exist. If you were one of the cool kids, you probably had something called a pager. Back in those days, there were numeric codes for pagers - and "143" was the numeric code for "I love you."
2 - Bohemian Rhapsody
This is the only solo ukulele arrangement on the CD.
This was quite a challenge considering the ukulele has only four strings and two octaves.
This arrangement is the result of many sleepless nights.
3 - Bring Your Adz
Here's Jake’s take on rock-ukulele.
An adz is a small ancient Hawaiian tool used for cutting that resembles a small axe.
In rock & roll, players usually refer to their guitars as their axe.
‘I remember hearing people say, "bring your axe to the gig."
I guess "bring your adz" is the ukulele version of the expression.’ – Jake said.
4 - Boy Meets Girl
Here's Jake’s take on ukulele-pop music.
Boy Meets Girl is a happy love song - sort of "first-date" or early relationship inspired stuff.
This song was inspired by a mid 80's pop-groove with a very late 30's melody.
Jake’s mother loved listening to old pop records when he was growing up.
5 - Go For Broke
This piece was inspired by the WWII Japanese American veterans (the 442nd, 100th, 1399th, and MIS). "Go For Broke," which means "to risk everything on one great effort to win big," was the motto of the Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii who were the first to volunteer to fight overseas proving their loyalty to America and securing a better life for all Asian Americans living in the United States today.
6 – Trapped 2010
Here's a song that was inspired by the legendary percussionist Ralph MacDonald.
Jake met Ralph a few years ago while touring with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band.
One night, while they were hanging out, Ralph showed Jake a really cool Egyptian rhythm that later became the foundation of this piece. Jake also wanted to explore the textural sounds of combining the plucked ukulele with the long, bowed characteristics of the violin, which led to a collaboration with his dear friend, Iggy Jang, concert master of the Honolulu Symphony.
7 - Variation On A Dance 2010
Here's a piece that evolved from another piece Jake wrote many years ago called "Let's Dance," a flamenco inspired composition. He basically changed the groove and dramatically altered the phrasing of the original melody. This track has elements of jazz influence and a bit of James Brown.
8 – Pianoforte 2010
This piece was a humble attempt to make the ukulele sound more like a piano.
There are two main ukulele parts in this song. One part represents the left hand, and the other represents the right hand. "Pianoforte" was the original name of the piano when it was first invented. It was given that name because it was the first keyboard instrument that could play loud and soft - "piano" and "forte."
9 – Five Dollars Unleaded 2010
This is a driving tune about gasoline. It's supposed to reflect the emotions you feel as the fuel level in your tank rises and falls. The song was written in 3 parts. The first part describes what you feel when you're driving around with a full tank of gas - usually happy, bouncy and fun.
The second part reflects what you might feel when that fuel light starts flashing - the music gets a bit dark, stressful and worrisome. The third part is all about finding that gas station - you pull in, stop, fill-up your gas tank, and then you're happy again.
10 - Ukulele Bros.
Here's a song that Jake recorded with his younger brother, Bruce. He's a great ukulele player and Jake wanted to feature Bruce on the new album. They spent a lot of time as kids playing together. Besides, two ukuleles are better than one.
11 - Hallelujah
Jake always thought covering a song by another artist is like wearing your favorite basketball player's jersey. When Jake was a kid, he wore my number 23, Michael Jordan jersey everyday to school. Covering Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is like putting on a Cohen jersey and celebrating his love and admiration for one of the most gifted song writers and poets of our time.
* All tracks written by Jake Shimabukuro except track 2, 10, and 11.