What do children and jazz have in common? They are both acquired tastes.
What about jazz music for children? Well, now you're talking about an entire new set of standards – namely, if you do not have a predisposition for jazz, do you introduce the genre to your children? Do you feel it essential to "round out" their musical palette? Will they be "deprived" or limited in their appreciation of the entirety of the medium?
Such a conundrum and in walks Diana Panton, the Canadian award-winning jazz performer, with her first (mostly for kids) CD, I BELIEVE IN LITTLE THINGS. If you've ever seen Mr. Rogers Neighborhood or heard its distinctive theme song and transition music by Johnny Costa, you can imagine what Panton has scored. It's jazz for the junior set, with clear vocals and arrangements (and vibes) by Canadian multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson.
Perhaps it's Panton's newness to children's music or her belief that jazz arrangements would elevate them for wider audiences. She definitely has a different take on the oft-recorded "Sing," "Rainbow Connection," "When You Wish Upon a Star," and "Pure Imagination." There are also other tunes by Sesame Street legend Joe Raposo ("Everybody Sleeps") and A. A. Milne ("Halfway Down the Stairs"), as well as an original slumber song, "Sleep Is A Precious Thing."
I BELIEVE IN LITTLE THINGS has already been released to much acclaim in Canada. Now it's the United States' time to stand up (or sit down and sway gently) for Panton and company. This is mind-stimulating stuff, if not get up and dance music. Panton covers "Hushabye Mountain" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for Pete Seeger's sake!
I can hear some people saying, "Jazz is culturally important – pay attention!" I can honestly say that when I played the CD as dinner music, it was the fastest meal the kids have ever had. Mainly because the five-year-old nearly fell asleep, as I coaxed him into trying to recognize the songs he knew is more traditional arrangements.
It all comes down to your taste. Are you a rocker or a jazzy hepcat? Or somewhere in between? Do you believe that music can control your subconscious and take you places? I'm asking you quietly and nicely, because I'm currently listening to Panton sing "Slumber My Darling," and I'm almost there.
I BELIEVE IN LITTLE THINGS is available on Diana Panton's website, Amazon, and iTunes.
Hullabaloo may be almost of prolific as Recess Monkey – this month, they are releasing their 12th CD in 12 years! I'll be reviewing it in the days ahead. In the meantime, here's the SECOND video from I CHEW, entitled, "Worm With Wings":