Personnel: Dan DelNegro (keyboards); Noel Okimoto (drums).
Recording information: Chai's Island Bistro.
Photographer: Preston Terada.
Shimabukuro is the undisputed master of the new school of ukulele playing today, one of the few people capable of pleasing both the traditionalists and the avant-garde within his genre. Thanks to this, and his stunning virtuosity on the instrument, there's been a fair amount of press about his versatility and abilities in general. This album, by itself, shows what the press is about. Despite the sonic limitations of the ukulele's small body and string count, he casually starts out with smooth jazz and some Paganini (one of his specialties), most of which is done with minimal accompaniment. After making Celine Dion's piece de resistance enjoyable for people outside the adult contemporary crowd, he quickly turns his attention to fitting the ukulele into a hard rock piece -- surprisingly well. The requisite surf song is thrown in, followed by danceable Latin jazz and some Bacharach, ending on a show of force from a live show. The range of techniques, the range of genres, the range of sonic possibilities for his tiny instrument with its broken limits are all stunning. This album is a must. ~ Adam Greenberg