Jazzy, Piano-Centric Wit for Kids

Some new piano-centric efforts have me excited. These outstanding contributions are from artists whose jazz influences create a great intimate listening experience.

CD: Coal Train Railroad Swings!

This phenomenal second album from  Nashville jazz band Coal Train Railroad features vocalist Katy Bowser. Let others wrap themselves in “self-esteem” at the expense of the music. “I’m Diggin’ Me” is a rhythmic mantra of self-acceptance kids and adults can appreciate.

“Dirt” balances between grossness and celebration of its subject. “Quit Barking in My Rhubarb” plants something new on Old McDonald’s farm. “I Hab a Code” uses complex European rhythms to express the most common of experiences. 

The album is fun, jazzy and uses “my outside voice” to “Get My Wiggles Out” without a misstep. “No Fixin’ It” may be the most realistic kids’ song I’ve ever heard with its tale of kid-type disasters with no solutions.

Coal Train Railroad performs at a neighborhood concert following the release of their first CD.

Song: ‘It’s Hard to Wait for Your Birthday’

My own February birthday marks a big one this year. So piano teacher/songwriter Lori Henriques’ It’s Hard to Wait for Your Birthday” hits home with the joyous, quirky piano/jazzy sound marking this great voice in kids’ music. Lyrics like “you say you want your birthday sooner? Perhaps a calendar that’s lunar?” impart cabaret-style wit to kids’ music,delivered with intimacy.

Using “palpable” (rhyming with “helpable”) in a kids’ song is the sign of an artist who doesn’t sing down to her audience. Her 2008 CD Outside My Door  features other treasures like the spacey adventurous title track and the excellent “Mean People,” lamenting that “the world would be beautiful without it, unfortunately life’s not ideal.”

Lori Henriques performs "What Color Will You Choose."

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.

Categories: Music Reviews