Ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro will be strumming amid a galaxy of stars when “Jake & Friends,” his most ambitious CD yet, is released Nov. 12.
It’s a bona fide party on a platter, when the likes of Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffet, Michael McDonald, Ziggy Marley, Vince Gill and Amy Grant collaborate with the island-born musician to share, strut, and savor a gamut of musical genres, from pop to country, from blues to folk, from rock to standards.
“Making the album was a real challenge, but I’m deeply honored that all of the artists agreed to record with me,” Shimabukuro said in a statement.
The idea to lasso guest artists began on a modest scale, when Shimabukuro, the prevailing and defining figure of the ukulele movement worldwide, first got country legend Willie Nelson to consent to collaborate on one of his signature tracks, “Stardust.” Nelson at that time also was stretching his reach beyond his usual country corral.
Similarly, Shimabukuro also had been testing the waters to expand his horizons, when he tapped George Harrison’s “The Guitar Gently Weeps,” and gave that bluesy song an ukulele spin, which garnered him widespread attention on YouTube, connecting his talent to the national musical scene.
“Stardust” with Nelson’s expressive yet familiar vocal, and “Two High,” featuring a Nashville alt-rock group Moon Taxi, will be the first singles from the milestone CD.
He scored Midler, a fellow Honolulan, to bring his ukulele presence to her luminous and lovely Golden Globe-winning “The Rose,” one of the treats on the disc and one to Bette on, given her popularity.
The roster of other guests is impressive; participants include former Grammy and Country Music Association winners. Beyond the aforementioned names, listen for other crowd-pleasers in Jesse Colin Young, Jon Anderson, Sonny Landreth, Warren Haynes, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel, Lukas Nelson and Billy Strings.
“Looking back on it all now, it feels like a dream,” Shimabukuro said with both pride and relief. “I grew up fantasizing that one day I might be able to meet my musical heroes, and here I am on my own record playing with them. That’s remarkable beyond words. I’m so fortunate to have had this experience, and I can’t wait for people to hear it. I think they’re going to be able to tell that I’m having the time of my life.”
The disc features 16 tracks and can be ordered at https://smarturl.it/JakeShimabukuro in advance of its release date.
Behind the scenes
There’s not a whole lot of quotable quotes from Vanessa Lachey, who is portraying Jane Tennent, the first female leader of an NCIS unit in CBS’s procedural family of shows, in pre-premiere articles so far. Lachey is going to be the focus on how “NCIS: Hawai’i” fares after it debuts Sept. 20 at 8 p.m., following the launch of the mothership show “NCIS,” at 7 p.m.
Lachey is the cover girl of the current Modern Luxury Hawaii cover, with the piece exploring her juggling her professional life as an actress with that of being a mom of three kids with husband Nick Lachey of the group 98 Degrees, but given the nature of the mag’s audience and focus, the pictorials are fashion-oriented — a missed opportunity to share perhaps the first-on-the-site filming at Pearl Harbor, in her work environment, where much of the show’s plots will be anchored. …
And that’s Show Biz. …