Here’s one for the kids! Kinderjazz’ seventh and latest disc, Teddy Bear’s Picnic, is smart music that makes your kids smart. But first, for those of you not familiar with the artists in question, a bit of background info.
Kinderjazz is led by co-founders Dr. Christobel Llewellyn and her husband, composer/lyricist David Llewellyn. The band includes top Australian musicians who were reportedly recruited “for both their musicianship and their ability to relate to children.” Kinderjazz is the world’s only 12-piece big band/jazz ensemble for children under the age of 12.
The Australia-based band’s material is arranged to engage and educate children while also entertaining adults as well. Their signature sound is a fluid musical mix of blues, jazz, Latin, ragtime and swing music. The album opener to this 11-track release is “Arabella” which is a positive piece that will draw you in with its general vibe.
The titular “Teddy Bears Picnic” is an instrumental jazz version of the classic kid’s cut. This makes it both familiar yet fresh and entertaining. The second selection is “In The Micro Aykho” which has a multi-cultural feel to it along with clever vocals.
“Razzmatazz” appears to be a biographical Broadway bit on Kinderjazz. It’s generally an up-tempo track with expected yet effective highs and lows. The next number is “Do The Latin Alphabet” which is dominated by the horn section and wants for little.
“Homework Blues” begins slower, as, perhaps, it should then picks things up here and there to suit the band’s taste and the genre. Mind you, the priority is always to captivate the kids so don’t expect a heavy blues song here. Expect something a bit more Kinderjazzy.
It’s followed by the energetic, Latin “Fantabulous” which is perhaps slightly overshadowed in this slot. “You Can’t Stop The Music” is perhaps too clever for some critics.
Yes, it’s very brief but it’s meant to be. Here the band not only follows the show biz rule and “leave ‘em wanting more” but they surprise listeners as well. The title makes you think the music will go on forever but the cut doesn’t even make it to one minute. The music did stop. Get it?
The swing-influenced “What’s Cooking Double Booking” serves up some noteworthy instrumentation here. Indeed, the entire album steers clear of mechanized music in favor of real musical instruments played by real musicians. The CD winds down with a pair of stories.
The first is a story from the picnic titled “Potato Salad”. It runs less than four minutes and is followed by the closing cut, the final story, “Signals From Outer Space”. It’s light; it’s funny and if your kids aren’t careful they just might learn something.
Overall, this album does not focus on a specific genre or turn pop songs into bad sing-a-longs. The tracks here actually introduces kids to something more diverse and fun but sneakily enriching as well. They are fun, family-friendly and even lively at times without being aurally empty. So check out Kinderjazz’ Teddy Bear’s Picnic and you, too, may learn “You Can’t Stop The Music.”