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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Jazz for Juniors

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19385



1. Tiger, Tiger
2. An Elegant Elephant
3. The Hip Hippo
4. Jenny the Giraffe
5. The Drummin´ Dromedary
6. A Penguin Who Plays It Cool
7. A Swan Who Plays With Heart
8. A Cockatoo on the Clarinet
9. The Blue Bison
10. The Robin´s Song
11. Join Our Band
12. This Little Light of Mine, I´m Gonna Let It Shine
13. Jazz Variations on This Little Light of Mine
14. Repirse: Little Light / Join Our Band
15. Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Randy Sandke - Trumpet
Ken Peplowski - Clarinet
Chuck Wilson - Flute
Wayne Escoffery - Tenor sax
Wycliffe Gordon - Trombone
Ted Rosenthal - Piano
Howard Alden - Guitar
Jay Leonhart - Bass
John Riley - Drums
Allan Harris, Carolyn Leonhart - Vocals


Introducing children to jazz can be difficult, especially nowadays when youngsters are exposed to so much pop music on radio, television and records that they may find jazz hard to attune themselves to. I was lucky to live in a house where my father played jazz records much of the time, so I grew gradually into appreciating the music.

This CD supplies one possible solution: a recording made specially to present jazz to children in an accessible way. It consists of a story about a trumpet-playing tiger who goes on a journey in search of other animals who will play jazz with him. Trumpeter Randy Sandke wrote all the music and the lyrics, which are sung by Allan Harris and Carolyn Leonhart - who also narrate the story. A bonus is that, if you play the disc on a PC computer (but unfortunately not a Mac), you can watch a slide show which accompanies the music.

My adult critical faculty occasionally made me incredulous about the story but it will probably be quite acceptable to young children - although it is likely not to appeal to teenagers. The good thing is that Randy Sandke incorporates the jazz naturally into the story, and the musicians are all top-class Arbors jazzers.

Randy Sandke is appropriately tigerish in Tiger, Tiger; Wycliffe Gordon makes a fine growling hippo; and tenorist Wayne Escoffery is a sinuous Swan Who Plays With Heart. Ken Peplowski's clarinet cockatoo has a Latin-American pulse. When the multi-hued band has been assembled, the robin (Carolyn Leonhart) observes "Look at us: we've got all the colours of the rainbow. We're all so different and yet we can make such beautiful music together". It's a salutary lesson for children (and adults) to learn from jazz.

To round off the educative value of the album, the band plays This Little Light of Mine in various jazz styles - from ragtime via blues, Dixieland, swing, bebop, modal and soul to free-form, ending with Randy Sandke's particular enthusiasm: metatonal.

This album won't appeal to everybody but it was a difficult task for Randy to tackle and he has done well.

Tony Augarde

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