The ukulele has been riding a wave of resurgent popularity in recent years, due in large part to its increasing use in popular music and its widening acceptance as more than a novelty instrument.
But while many of the current crop of ukulele players focus solely on technical virtuosity, few have incorporated the sophisticated language of modern jazz as successfully as Paul Hemmings, a self-described “recovering jazz guitar addict.”
Local fans will be able to judge for themselves when The Paul Hemmings Uketet (pronounced yook-TET) performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at The Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St. in downtown Winters.
Based in New York City, The Paul Hemmings Uketet features the unassuming four-string Hawaiian instrument front and center, alongside bass and drums, in an instrumental jazz trio that focuses on dynamic group interplay and creative improvisation.
The group’s debut album, “Introducing … The Paul Hemmings Uketet,” released last week, features a wide-ranging repertoire of jazz standards and pop classics in addition to a handful of Hemmings originals.
Their performance at The Palms is part of a week-long tour that also includes appearances at The Reno Ukulele Festival and jazz clubs around the San Francisco Bay Area.
The concert also marks a homecoming for Hemmings; he attended UC Davis in the mid-1990s and performed in ensembles led by acclaimed jazz saxophonist John Tchicai, before moving to New York.
Tickets are $15, available at Armadillo Music in Davis, Watermelon Music in Woodland, Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters and at the door, if available.