Friday, July 29, 2011

Wild Child Celebrates Africa

It Ain't Putumayo, But It's Close

Coke and Pepsi. McDonalds and Burger King. Putumayo and Recess Music?

Since 1993, Putumayo World Music has introduced people to the music of the world’s cultures. They are known primarily for their upbeat and melodic compilations of international music. Putumayo has released several CDs specifically for children, but the company casts a wide net.

Proving that there is always room for a number two, Recess Music aims to entertain, encourage, and educate children and families through Earth-friendly music. Founder and CEO Nancy Doan hit the ground running in 2010. The company has released four CDs, three in its "Celebrate Earth" series and "Big Bully," the first in its "Best Foot Forward" series.

August 2011 brings forth "Wild Child," a compilation of 14 songs that puts a spotlight on the animals of Africa. You certainly get a complete aural experience. Recess Music does not skimp on the production values - animal sounds, native instruments, so dig out a set of headphones (not earbuds) for the kids.

When you use music to teach children, musicians always walk a fine line. At a certain point, kids will zone out if they catch on that something is supposed to be GOOD for them. And most adults roll their eyes when a song starts with a breathless narrative, "It's like no other place in the world." Oh boy - Las Vegas! No, it's the Serengeti that Aaron Glassman is singing about.

Anna Moo is more successful with "Mysteries of the Nile," but the lyrics are quite a mouthful:

To the north lies desert and ancient Egyptian tombs

To the south wild jungles and mountains of the moon.

Does this river carry the secrets of the Earth?

The origins of Man's birth?

Ooooh, heady stuff. And kind of heavy for 4-12 year olds.

Recess Music has noble intentions, but this collection came off as a tad literal, from an adult perspective. Yes, every animal is special as Melita Doostan's "Animal" points out. Perfectly fine for the target audience and we're Danny Adlerman fans, so every new song is welcome.

Recess Music accomplishes its purpose - revealing aspects of the world as a global village, with the "Wild Child" compilation very methodically and super-seriously teaching children about the vanishing marvels of the African continent.

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