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Louise Rogers & Rick Strong Jazzy Fairy Tales RILO Records 2007
Welcome to Ms. Rogers neighborhood and the freshest approach to jazz education for very young children yet. Accompanied by bassist Rick Strong and a vocal quartet of eight-year olds, Louise Rogers skats her way through a delightful program that succeeds on multiple levels. She recasts three children's classics into magical Jazzy Fairy Tales and introduces the music and personas of Ella, Miles and Bird to the three- to five-year old set on Bop Boo Day.
Strong is aptly named and his emotive up-in-the- mix bass is the only non-vocal instrument (aside from a brief kazoo appearance) on both CDs. He blends so well with Rogers that advanced listeners can lose themselves in the timbres and rhythms that they create. These projects though are ultimately for the kids and a better source of musical materials to introduce preschoolers to jazz can't be had. Bop Boo Day is the more participatory of the two titles with songs performed in a call-and-response style as Rogers sings the lyrics and the kids respond. Songs like "Ella Fitzgerald Sang Bop Boo Day , "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop and the superb recasting of Miles Davis' "So What not only invite participation but can also serve as jumping off points for mini-lessons in jazz history. While Bop Boo Day is primarily about participation, Jazzy Fairy Tales is primarily about listening.
With the assistance of Susan Milligan's storytelling and inventive lyrical reworkings, Strong and Rogers turn fairy tales already familiar to preschoolers into jazzy versions that will delight all ages. They expose the blues, swing and boogie in the Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Goldilocks and The Three Little Bears. Fun stanzas like "Bop Boo Bop, Bop Boo Bay, Piggy feet hop, Piggy feet play , sung with an Andrews Sisters swing in the context of the overall story, and sharp stylistic transitions in each song will make children want to hear them again and again. They will delight in both anticipating the rhythmical changes and in scatting along with the lyrics. These well-known tales retold from a jazzer's perspective are all so good that one bemoans the absence of a supplemental storybook to follow along with, read aloud or present accompanying visuals. Nevertheless, either of these charming CDs will make you want to seek out your closest four year old to give them their first lesson in jazzology.
Tracks and Personnel
Bop Boo Day
Tracks: Crusty Corn Bread; Animal Blues; Ella Fitzgerald Sang Bop Boo Day; Dat Dere; Charlie Parker Played be bop; Now's the Time; So What; A Tisket, A Tasket; I Thought About You; What Did You Have For Breakfast?
Personnel: Louise Rogers: vocals, kazoo; Rick Strong: bass; The Beeboppin' Kids (Kaitlin Cullen-Verhauz, Alexander Tonhazy, Miranda Johnson, Alex Strong): vocals, Henry Ratliff: vocals (9).
Jazzy Fairy Tales
Tracks: The Jazzy Pigs; The Jazzy Goats; The Jazzy Bears.
Personnel: Louise Rogers: vocals; Rick Strong: Bass; Susan Milligan: Storytelling.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.