One of America's finest exports is jazz music. This truly American art form has made its way to the big cities of the world and even to the most remote corners of our globe. The influence of jazz on international musicians comes to life as they mix jazz with their own diverse musical heritages to make it their own.
Putumayo World Music is a record company with a passion to bring the music of the world into our lives. I believe deeply that music is a wonderful way to bring the world a little closer to our children. It serves as a bridge for meaningful cultural understanding. So I applaud Putumayo for its efforts and vision.
Jazz Playground is the latest release from Putumayo Kids. As always, the compilation CD features a wide array of fabulous musicians from all around the world singing and playing a great collection of family-friendly tunes. The tag line for the recording is "Be-bop, swing and all that jazz: Cool tunes for global kids!" Definitely an accurate assessment.
Though I really enjoy all the songs on Jazz Playground, some standouts include the opening track, "Stomp, Stomp," by Lewis Franco & The Missing Cats (USA); the irresistible sing-along "Cumbamba" by José Conde (Cuba); and a very swinging take on the traditional French song, "Sur Le Pont d'Avignon," by Triocéphale (France).
My favorite just might be Canadian Chris McKhool's very hip version of "Spider-Man," which reminds me of the old gypsy-style jazz pioneered by jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt.
If you are looking for more great jazz for kids, be sure to check out Chicago's own Steve Rashid and his "cross-generational kids' music" CD, Fidgety Feet (WoodsideAvenue.com). Come to think of it, quite a few of the tracks from Fidgety Feet would have fit beautifully on Jazz Playground.
Fred Koch writes about music every month for Chicago Parent.
See more of Fred's stories here.