Quick Hits: Jazzy Diana Panton, Mellow Again Again

Canadian jazz performer Diana Panton loves the classics and her second release for children, A Cheerful Little Earful, is chock full of tunes many adults have either never heard or forgot a long, long time ago. It’s a tranquil rainy day diversion, and a way to get children interested in the burgeoning field of jazz for juniors (if I may coin a phrase).

Diana Panton’s “A Cheerful Little Earful”

Panton covers such well-known composers as Rodgers & Hammerstein (“Happy Talk”), Sammy Cahn (“Pocketful of Miracles”), Cole Porter (“Experiment”), Ira Gershwin (the title track), among others. It’s definitely a time warp for older listeners (although my eightysomething stepfather took a power nap as we all listened on a drive home from Connecticut). The kids were similarly amazed that I knew the lyrics to album-closer “Hush-a-bye Island,” which has appeared on at least five Frank Sinatra compilations. There are also songs you “know” but were unfamiliar with the composers – “Sing a Rainbow” by Arthur Hamilton and “Red Red Robin” from Harry Woods, for instance.

Musicians Reg Schwager and Don Thompson fill the songs with gentle instrumentation and verve. Panton makes sure you don’t miss any of the underlying emotion as she turns a phrase, even on such well-trod ground as Jeff Moss’s “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon.” As Ben pointed out “Ernie sings that!” If you’re in the mood for vibraphone and singalongs, A Cheerful Little Earful gives kids a wistful education of bygone days that a handful of musicians are striving to turn into a fanciful future.

A Cheerful Little Earful is available from Diana Panton’s websiteAmazon, and Apple Music

Jennifer Cook and Anne Montone’s Listen. Love. Repeat. is both a coloring book and a children’s CD. Both halves complete a collection they hope will help kids develop harmoniously in both heart and mind. The duo record as Again Again, a mnemonic that is both cute but also extraordinarily hard to search on Google. Their strongest Web presence is on Facebook (and the Soundcloud link was both broken and, when truncated, showed no songs to play).

Listen. Love. Repeat. is a preschooler’s collection of ambient, peppy tunes, from “The Kids Are Here (First Day of School)” through “Wrap Your Arms Around Your Family” to “Camping Song (Lullaby).” Their priorities are blended families, sharing, and being progressive. If I were conservative, I’d ask how much crunchy granola was served during the making of the CD. However I strive for inclusivity as well, so I admire their vision of serving up Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush for kids. Another influence, Bette Midler, on the other hand, might incorporate something with a more nuanced message for adults. Jennifer and Anne are also collaborating on an Again Again podcast about “adulting with children.” I might just stick with Childish from Alison Rosen and comedian Greg Fitzsimmons. Again again, that’s just a matter of tastes.

Listen. Love Repeat. is available from CDBABYAmazon, and Apple Music.

Here is their song “The Kids Are Here (First Day of School)” on YouTube:

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This post was last modified on November 11, 2019 11:55 am

Jeffrey Cohen: @https://twitter.com/MrJeff2000 Born and raised in New York (with a brief sojourn in New Jersey during his preteen years), Jeffrey Cohen lives in New York with his two sons. He has reviewed children's music for the past nine years on his own blog. Jeff's podcast, "MrJeff2000 Explains It All" is available through iTunes.