Before I get to my picks for the month, I need your help.
I hope you will participate in my column for next month. The idea is simple. I would like to know what music you are listening to with your children. Is there a CD getting played a lot around your house or in the car? Or are you downloading the music from your favorite kids music artists and creating your own mixes? Are you not playing kids music at all and opting to share family-friendly adult music? Whatever it is, I would like to know.
I would like to gather as many responses as possible. It is like a cookie recipe exchange. Don’t you love to get recommendations from friends whether it is about a new restaurant or a great movie or a fabulous book?
With another gift-giving season quickly approaching, wouldn’t you like some new and fresh ideas? I see you nodding your head, so please take a minute and send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I am convinced others will benefit from your recommendations. Please do it now before you forget—I will need to hear from you by Nov. 7.
There is no theme this month, just two very different new releases worth checking out.
DOWN AT THE SEA HOTEL, by Various Artists, $12.98/$16.98, www.thesecretmountain.com; all ages.
I am a huge fan of the musical projects that come from The Secret Mountain, a Canadian production company. I love the fact that the company has such high aesthetic standards. Its music is always of the highest caliber and the artwork for its storybook-music CDs is visually stunning time after time.
Its new project, "Down at the Sea Hotel," is a song penned by Greg Brown, an acclaimed and accomplished songwriter and serves as the title track for a recording. This superb project features 14 lullabies written by celebrated and accomplished songwriters of our time including Neil Young, Carole King, Don Henley, Billy Joel and Nanci Griffith.
Each song is truly a gem, but a few real highlights include blues master Guy Davis’ version of Tom Waits’ "Midnight Lullaby," Marc Cohn’s "The Things We’ve Handed Down" sung by John Gorka and the tender and moving "Nothing But A Child" written by Steve Earle.
Be sure to visit the company’s Web site, www.lamontagnesecrete.com, and take a look at its outstanding award-winning recordings. All titles come in two formats—Storybook-Music CD and CD Digipak.
JAZZ & SWING FOR KIDS, by Various Artists, Genius + Love, $10.98, available at iTunes and some retail stores; ages 3-10.
We all want our children to grow up with an appreciation for a variety of musical styles and genres. So it is no wonder there is a subset in children’s music focusing on jazz music for kids.
Moments into the first song you will be swept up in the upbeat, swingin’ groove of "Diddle Diddle Swing." First the great horn arrangements will catch your ear and then you will be knocked out by the texture and fabulous vocal phrasing of Abby Burke.
The other vocalist featured on Jazz & Swing for Kids is Scat Springs who could pass for a young Joe Williams. His interpretations are genuine, authentic and as you listen to him sing, it seems obvious that he is having a great time. Springs does a fabulous job on the obscure "Popcorn Pip Pop," makes "Old MacDonald Jazz Remix" fun again and even is masterful on "Rockin’ Robin."
For me, the most delightful parts of this recording are the wonderful musical arrangements and the exceptional musicians and singers. There was no "let’s spend less on the arrangements because it’s a kids record" attitude here. I truly enjoy this CD on an adult level as much as I see it as great music for kids.
How many recordings can you say that about?
Fred Koch lives in Lake Bluff with his wife and son and is an award-winning music educator, recording artist and producer. His Web site, BestChildrensMusic.com, helps parents, teachers and librarians select quality children’s music. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.