Shimabukuro plays
uke on Flecktones’ CD

Our Sunday Mauka-Makai cover boy Jake Shimabukuro finally goes national. He's just part of a stellar guest list that appears on Béla Fleck and the Flecktones' ambitious three-CD set "Little Worlds," which hits store shelves today. (A single-disc version of the album, "Ten from Little Worlds," gets a simultaneous release today as well.)

Art Shimabukuro both opened for and guested with the Flecktones when the band played in Honolulu as part of an interisland tour last December. Fleck was reportedly so impressed by Jake's musical skills that he recorded some tracks back at Fleck's hotel room.

Shimabukuro's appearances on "Little Worlds" include a mellow little thing called "Pineapple Heart" and the 12-minute "Sleeper," which morphs from a delicate Latin-tinged ditty into a thrilling, otherworldly racket, complete with Jake's ukulele, tablas, jaw harps and guest Bobby McFerrin's manic vocalizing. (Only "Pineapple Heart" will be available on both album versions.)

"We had this long vamp at the end that faded out in a 5/4 groove," Fleck said about the track in the recent issue of ICE magazine. "But after everyone left, I found a take where it went into 4/4 for a couple of beats, and I created a loop and thought, What if (we blurred) the lines between the loop and real playing? A bunch of people came in to play ... after that, so that section turned into something completely unexpected and went into this very spooky place."

Other guests include recent island visitors McFerrin and Derek Trucks, plus the young bluegrass trio Nickel Creek, the Chieftains, bluegrass stalwarts Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush, and Branford Marsalis.

The Flecktones have always been known for their embrace of cutting-edge technology and roots-conscious musicianship, and they take it a step further with this new and daring album.

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