Why, of all the readily available instruments in his vast jazz-schooled catalog, did Woody Allen choose the ukulele to punch home the devastating climax of The Purple Rose of Cairo? Because its high tones are both whimsical and bittersweet, and they make any song more provocative. Honolulu, Hawaii, native Jake Shimabukuro, the most acclaimed mainstream ukulele performer of the decade, knows this well and giddily alchemizes the effect with pop and jazz tunes: George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and his numerous originals have received four-string renovations. Shimabukuro, the recipient of numerous Na Hoku Hanohano awards (the Hawaiian Grammys), is a concert experience unlike any other; wait ’til he amplifies that baby and caterwauls to psychedelic heights. Your universe will expand. With Snehasish Mozumder & Som and the Derek Trucks Band.
Thu., Aug. 13, 6 p.m., 2009
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 11, 2009