This album has such a fairy tale setting about it that I was tempted to start the review "Once upon a time..." Jazz for Kids is the end product of the work of a dedicated jazz vocalist, Lisa Yves, who turned her talents to teaching kids, young kids at that, the art of jazz vocalizing. A graduate of New York University where she majored in vocal jazz performance, she worked with her own group and with such luminaries as Harry Connick, Jr. on gigs in New York City. Yves was also the voice on the jingle for Honey Nut Cheerios. After getting married, she and her family moved to Easton, MA where she started teaching singing to young kids having them recite the alphabet in 5/4 time! This fun album was the result of the kids' desire to sing this wonderful music called jazz.
What we have here is a mixture of original tunes by Yves and jazz classics. Yves has revised some of the lyrics of the latter to make them more appropriate for the younger set. Listen, for example to the clever rendition of "(Hey) Daddy" where Alexa Madeloff and Hayley Katz ask Daddy (and Mommy, too) not only for diamond rings but things which are more important to them at their age, like letting them go to the mall with their friends. Yves excellent singing is heard on many cuts but she by no means hogs the show. She lets the kids, who range from six to fourteen years old , show off their significant vocal skills. Leah Fine does a duet with herself on "In a Mellotone" and Sarah Konowitz is just that on Neal Hefti's "Cute". And these youngsters can scat with the best of them as they ably demonstrate on Jon Hendricks' "Everybody's Boppin'". Vocalese and bop are visited on the Charles Mingus/Joni Mitchell "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines". But the highlight of an album filled with good stuff is the rendition of the Wardell Gray/Annie Ross bop anthem "Twisted" where Yves engages in be-boppin' give and take with the "Kids" jazz chorus. Other young soloists comport themselves equally as well. There is also excellent support by crack Boston area jazz musicians. Special mention should be made of Mike Monaghan who sax work is brightens almost every track making a significant contribution to the feeling of jazz that permeates this session. Brad Hatfield's piano, Marshall Wood on bass and Jim Gwin's tasteful drumming create a musical envelope into which the singing snugly fits.
Albums like these are often dismissed as novelties which lose their appeal after a couple of hearings. Not this one. Yves' imaginative arrangements and lyrics, the presence of first rank instrumentalists all mixed intelligently with the singing of very talented youngsters will encourage frequent rehearings of this recommended CD. "And they all lived happily ever after." Visit Lisa at her web site at http://www.jazzforkids.net where you can find where to buy the CD.