Ukulele superstar Jake Shimabukuro, one of the most exceptional and innovative ukulele players in the history of the instrument, will release his newest record, The Greatest Day, on August 31, 2018 via Mailboat Records.
The album was recorded at Music City’s famed Ronnie’s Place studio with producer R.S. Field – the same city, studio, and producer as 2016’s “adventurous and dazzling” (Associated Press) Nashville Sessions. Returning as the ace rhythm section are bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings; the group added guitarist Dave Preston to expand upon the sound they started creating two years ago.
“On the last record, it was pretty much the sound of a live trio, which sounded fresh, raw and organic,” says Shimabukuro. “Now we’ve expanded to a quartet, which has added more colors and variety to the overall production. Once we recorded the live takes, we experimented with overdubs, and added horns, strings and keys, and other funky sounds. There are even some vocals on a few cuts.”
The 12 studio tracks that comprise The Greatest Day feature some of Shimabukuro’s most imaginative and adventuresome playing yet. Half of the album is devoted to originals, on which the instrumentalist reaches new heights of compositional distinction. And on the covers, Shimabukuro’s prodigious skills allow him to transcend his material – no mean feat considering some of the classics and standards he’s tackling.
Pre-Order available now at JakeShimabukuro.com, Mailbo
atRecords.com and if you pre-order at iTunes, receive “The Greatest Day” track instantly! Special exclusives also available at Pledge Music including a ukulele Skype lesson with Jake!
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Among the self-penned tunes, there’s the blissed-out title track which Shimabukuro wrote the night before going into the studio. After laying down parts with Verner and Hutchings, he watched Dave Preston add a joyous, Edge-like guitar riff that completed the picture. “It came together so quickly,” Shimabukuro says, “and when I heard the final mix, I just thought, ‘Wow, this has been the greatest day!’”
“Pangram” has already turned heads in concert with its rivers of cascading melodies and its pumping, rock-soul rhythms. “Straight A’s,” – inspired by the A string of the ukulele – is a carefree and vibrant gem on which Shimabukuro’s soulful soloing recalls one of his influences, Carlos Santana. “Mahalo John Wayne” is a flat-out stunner, a delicate melody that transforms into a grand-scale cinematic symphony.
As always, Shimabukuro’s playing has a wonderful innocence to it, as if each phrase feels new to him. This sense of discovery is abundant on his astonishing reinterpretations of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” now a driving and insistent ballad brimming with furious jazz chords and a spirited back-and-forth between Shimabukuro and dobro legend Jerry Douglas. “It was such an honor to have Jerry guest on the record,” Shimabukuro says. “He was only going to play on one tune, but we had such a great time that he stayed and played on two more tracks.”
The two also go toe to toe on Jimi Hendrix’s freak-flag classic “If 6 Was 9,” spiraling off into a spacey, jazz-rock odyssey that manages to be reverential to the original while simultaneously distinguishing itself as a bold new tour de force.
Another reimagined track is The Zombies’ psychedelic rock nugget “Time of the Season,” which Shimabukuro often heard in his house growing up. The album concludes with a sparse yet exquisite reading of Leonard Cohen’s iconic hymn “Hallelujah.” “I had recorded it before, but after Cohen passed I wanted to re-record it – I felt a new emotional response to it. It seemed like the perfect way to end the album.”
The CD and vinyl versions of the album include the 12 studio tracks with three more live cuts including immersive takes on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Shimabukuro’s own “Dragon,” and a slinky, ultra-funky interpretation of Bill Withers’ hit single “Use Me.” They were recorded live with no overdubs at various venues by engineer Brett Lind and mixed by Jack Clarke (who engineered Nashville Sessions and The Greatest Day).
The digital edition of The Greatest Day includes the aforementioned live tracks as well as two additional songs – a live version of “Blue Roses Falling” that features Shimabukuro dueting with cellist Meena Cho as well as a concert recording of “Kawika” (originally made famous by the Sunday Manoa).
Since he first came to the world’s attention with his deeply beautiful and original take on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in a viral video that dominated YouTube in 2005, the Hawaiian-born Shimabukuro has virtually reinvented the four-string instrument, causing many to call him “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele.”
Throughout his rich and varied catalog of albums, Jake captures the many moods of the ukulele, fearlessly traversing boundaries and putting his inspired touch on everything from island standards, to popular tunes and classical symphonic concertos. He has collaborated with artists from Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson and Cyndi Lauper to Ziggy Marley, Dave Koz, Lyle Lovett and Bette Midler, and wowed audiences at SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Playboy Jazz Festival, and the cutting-edge TED conference. This year he founded Shima Ukulele with his brother, a fellow artist and teacher, Bruce Shimabukuro, which aims to make quality ukuleles accessible for anyone interested in learning to play.
In mid-July, Shimabukuro embarks on an extensive tour of the U.S. and a fall tour of Japan. “I’m really excited to play the new songs in my shows,” he says. “Making this record was one of the highlights I’ve had in the studio. I couldn’t be happier with the sounds and arrangements. But most of all, we had a ton of fun making it.”
The Greatest Day Tracklist:
1.Time of the Season
2. The Greatest Day
3. Eleanor Rigby
5. Bizarre Love Triangle
6. Straight A’s
7. If 6 Was 9
8. Shape of You
9. Go for Broke
10. Little Echoes
11. Mahalo John Wayne
CD/VINYL BONUS TRACKS:
13. Use Me (feat. Dave Preston) (’18 Live)
14. Dragon (‘18 Live)
15. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (’18 Live)
DIGITAL BONUS TRACKS:
13. Kawika (’18 Live)
14. Blue Roses Falling (feat. Meena Cho) (’18 Live) 5
15. Use Me (feat. Dave Preston) (’18 Live)
16. Dragon (‘18 Live)
17. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (’18 Live)
Jake Shimabukuro Tour Dates: http://www.jakeshimabukuro.