Friday, July 14, 2017

Jazzy Ash Gets Kids In the Swing Of Things

When you boil it down to the essential elements, children's music is all about discovery. The first songs that every child hears, they think are just being created for them, until they hear the music being performed by others. A standard like "Happy Birthday" is interpreted as a family heirloom until they realize that everybody knows it.

The next stage of children's music is rediscovery. That happens when kids are introduced to the same songs as performed by different, diverse performers. I've always contended that parents do their kids no favors by being snarky and only playing "adult" or "pop" music for their tots. Most of it is age-inappropriate. But also, what are the odds that other children even know what they're singing? And once they get to school age, that kind of parenting is going to be stigmatized by more conventional thinking. 

Okay, I could go on another 20 paragraphs by I've digressed far enough. Part of the concept of reinterpretation occurs when musicians go back to their roots and dredge the past for classics and forgotten tunes. Jazzy Ash (and the Leaping Lizards) have done just that with her latest collection, SWING SET. Fourteen songs are gathered, from the well-known "Down By the Riverside" and "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain" to little-known "Little Sally Walker" and "Eh La Bas."

SWING SET accomplishes for the New Orleans sound what Dan Zanes did nearly two decades ago when he inadvertently inaugurated the kindie movement. Putamayo has released similar collections, but one must be familiar with their organization (or their SiriusXM KidsPlace Live show). Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards resurrect the purely American brassy NOLA beat, which draws clear lines to blues, jazz, rap, and country.

A fully-rounded children's education presents many forms of music and lets them decide what they like. As a result, I have a six-year-old who requests The Offspring and a 16-year-old who cycled through Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam. SWING SET gives children and families an opportunity to learn about the rich history of NOLA music and culture and opens the door to a different perspective from another time and place. 

SWING SET is available July 21 from Jazzy Ash's website, Amazon, iTunes, and CDBABY.

Here is a video of Ash and friends recording an impromptu version of "Li'l Liza Jane" in a vintage recording booth:

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