Friday, November 22, 2019

Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music and Memories

Thank You, Mr. Rogers: Music and Memories. Performed by Various Artists. CD. Approx. 45 min. Act IV Music. 2019. CD: $13.98; digital: $11.49.
Pre-S and up

This wonderful musical homage to Fred Rogers features 12 celebrity individual and group artists singing in pop, rock, jazz, and Latin musical styles. All of the 13 songs on the album were written by Fred Rogers over the years. Musical legends the Cowsills open with a harmonious performance of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” in their unique pop style. Award-winning Cuban-American Jon Secada performs the same song in Spanish (“Podemos Ser Amigos?”) with a bright, lively Latin beat. The rest of the songs include “You Can Never Go Down the Drain” (award-winning Christian and Latin pop singer, Jaci Velasquez); “Sometimes People Are Good” (Rita Wilson, actress and wife of Tom Hanks who portrays Fred Rogers in the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood); “Perfectly Beautiful Day” (Mickey Dolenz, formerly of The Monkees); “Many Ways to Say I Love You” (Grammy and Oscar winning Vanessa Williams); “Some Things I Don’t Understand” (Tom Bergeron, host of “Dancing With the Stars” and whistler extraordinaire); “This Is My Home” (award-winning pianist Jim Brickman); “Let’s Be Together Today” (Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., formerly of the 5th Dimension); “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny” (award-winning Christian contemporary artist Sandi Patty); “It’s Such a Good Feeling” (country music star, Kellie Pickler); “When the Day Turns into Night” (Lee Greenwood, country music star and writer/singer of “God Bless the USA”); and “Thank You for Being You” (the entire ensemble). Adults who grew up with Mr. Rogers will appreciate these new arrangements and will want to share these classic songs with their own children.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Moove to the Moozika!

Moove to the Moozika. Performed by Jesse Goldman. CD. Approx. 30 min. Ruminator Records. 2018. CD or digital: $14.99.
Pre-S—Grade 3

            Goldman’s album is based on the music he uses in his successful music classes for children in Brooklyn. Goldman does a good job performing on all the instruments himself: guitars, bass, piano, organ, synths, trombone, trumpet, accordion, drums, marimba, tambourine, shakers, triangle, cow bell, clave bells, sax, whistle, and harmonica. Goldman and several children perform in several musical styles, including pop, jazz, electronic dance music, folk, samba, blues, ranchera, Latin, and rock. “Moove to the Moozika,” in English and Spanish encourages children to move—stomping, shaking, and moving to the beat. The “Moose on the Loose” chases all the children who run far away. Listeners learn to count to four in Spanish with “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro.” The “Supa Dupa Soup” has onions, carrots, celery, and perhaps dirty socks and salamanders. “Wiggle Waggin’” teaches listeners some animal sounds. “Wave Your Scarf” encourages participatory movement. Listeners might want to ride a “Burro,” a caballo and a toro while learning some Spanish. The lullaby “Sleep My Baby,” instead of being at the end of the album is in the middle of it, a somewhat unusual placement. The “Brooklyn Baby” goes to the zoo, plays in Prospect Park, rolls across the Brooklyn Bridge, and goes to Coney Island. “Limpia” is a cute cleaning up song. The “Roly-Poly Train” rolls through the mountains and plains, spins its wheels and blows its whistle. “Hasta Luego” ends the album with a bilingual farewell. Goldman’s goal is for families to come up with their own variations of the melodies, or even create new music inspired by this album.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cheerful Little Earful

A Cheerful Little Earful. Performed by Diana Panton. CD. Approx. 54 min. Little Things. 2019. CD: $12.99; Digital: $9.99.
Grades 1 and up

Two-time Juno Award winner Diana Panton’s lovely, clear voice expertly handles these 15 songs in various styles of jazz. Panton’s clear enunciation makes it easy to understand the lyrics. Well-known jazz musicians Reg Schwager and Don Thompson provide outstanding background music on guitar, bass, piano, and vibraphone. The tracks are covers of pop tunes and songs from various musicals. The playlist includes “Happy Talk” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific; “It’s a Most Unusual Day” from A Date with Judy; “’A’ You’re Adorable,” a pop song from 1948; “Red Red Robin” popularized by Lillian Roth in 1926; “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” a popular song from Sesame Street; “Cheerful Little Earful” from Ira Gershwin’s Sweet and Low; “If You Feel Like Singing, Sing” from Summer Stock with Judy Garland; “Music and Me,” a  1973 song popularized by Michael Jackson; “Pocketful of Miracles,” the title song from the 1961 movie Pocketful of Miracles; “Look to the Rainbow” from Finian’s Rainbow; “All in the Golden Afternoon” from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, adeptly sung by Panton in French & English; “Experiment” from Cole Porter’s Nymph Errant; “Aren’t You Glad You’re You,” a song from the 1945 film The Bells of St. Mary’s; “Sing a Rainbow” from the 1955 film Pete Kelly’s Blues; “Hush-a-bye Island,” a 1946 song popularized by Frank Sinatra. This album has already received a Family Choice Award and NAPPA award. These Canadian artists have created a wonderful album for the whole family to enjoy together.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Best Friends

Best Friends. Performed by Various artists. CD. Approx. 30 min. Kid Pan Alley Records. 2019. $14.98.
K – Grade 5

            Founder of award-winning Kid Pan Alley, Paul Reisler, celebrates its 20th anniversary with this excellent 5th album, which includes 12 songs performed by special guests Heather Mae, The Not-Its, Vance Gilbert, Steve Paltz. Lisa Loeb, John McCutcheon, Lea Morris, Bill Harley, Robbie Schaefer, Randy Kaplan, Silly Bus and Sonia De Los Santos. Each lively song was co-written by elementary school students and KPA songwriters. The backup musicians give excellent performances on guitar, bass, keyboards, ukulele, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, percussion, and bells in jazz, rock, pop, folk, and Latin salsa musical styles. “Life Is Good” because we have music. When “School’s Out” in the summertime, it’s time to scream and shout, go to movies, and be with friends. “Best Friends” are always by your side, stand the test of time, and cheer you up. One child wants to “Quit This Job” (meaning school) and get a job in New York instead. “I’ve Got an Apple Pie in My Book Bag” which tastes better than homework. “A Happy, Happy Birthday Song” celebrates the best day this child has ever known. “I Forgot to Charge My Phone Today” so I’ll go outside and play if I remember how. One child has a “Sister for Sale” and he’ll sell her in a second if he knew they wouldn’t put him in jail. “My Shadow Leads a Double Life” --by day it stays close by my side, but I wonder where it goes at night. Randy Kaplan discusses with children why “Santa’s on Vacation,” for example, after Christmas, Santa needs to take a break and work on his tan. “Who Decided” to put “a” before “b,” that pigs can’t fly, that wheels are round, and other observations. “La Vida Es Bella” reprises the first song in Spanish. This album is a great example of creative teamwork between children and adults.