Though some still have trouble pronouncing his last name and the instrument he plays, Jake Shimabukuro (she-ma-BOO-koo-row) is recognized as one of the world's most exciting and innovative ukulele (oo-koo-LAY-lay) players and composers.
Renowned for lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques, Jake views the ukulele as an "untapped source of music with unlimited potential." His virtuosity defies label or category. Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake's mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than the traditional Hawaiian music - or corny showbiz routines -- many associate it with.
Jake's mother gave him his first ukulele lesson when he was but four years old. "When I played my first chord I was hooked," says Jake, "I fell in love with the instrument." That love grew into a deep passion to create and innovate. Experimenting with various techniques allows Jake to create sounds never thought possible on the tiny four-string, two-octave instrument. A true showman, his performance captivates audiences with intricate strumming and plucking, electrifying high-energy grooves and smooth, melodic ballads.
From a modest beginning performing at a local Honolulu café, Jake has gone on to play renowned and popular venues and festivals across the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. And this summer Jake will perform in Europe (festivals in Stockholm, Pori, Nice, San Sebastian) and Brazil for the first time. Occasional tours with Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band have broadened Jake's experience, regularly exposing his virtuosity and charming stage presence to crowds of up to 50,000. Speaking of large audiences, Jake has also performed on national television shows such as NBC's The Late Show with Conan O'Brien, The Today Show, and Last Call With Carson Daly, as well been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and World Café, Public Radio International's The World, The Bob Edwards Show (XM Satellite Radio) and others.
Jake's collaborations and special projects are varied. He's toured with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and recorded on their Little Worlds (2003) album. Jake was also featured on Ziggy Marley's Grammy-Award winning Love is My Religion (2006). Since Jimmy Buffet made Jake a semi-regular member of his Coral Reefers band Jake has appeared on three of their CDs as well as two DVDs. At the end of 2008, he was a guest artist on Yo-Yo Ma's holiday album,Songs of Joy and Peace. Their collaboration on the John Lennon/Yoko Ono tune "Happy Xmas [War is Over]" will be part of Jake's forthcoming album of Beatles covers, Across the Universe (the title track of which features Cyndi Lauper).
In addition, Jake is making a name for himself as a film composer. His work with Buffett led to his contributions to the soundtrack of the Buffett-produced film, Hoot. Shortly afterward, Jake scored the hit Japanese independent film Hula Girls (the soundtrack album was released in the U.S. on Hitchhike Records in 2007). Jake also recently completed writing and recording the score for the Japanese version of the film Sideways.
Energy, imagination, and innovation have been Jake's keys to success. He plans to continue recording, performing, collaborating, and staying happy. "I love what I do. I'm forever thankful for music."