Knowing that I am a scat freak, a colleague of mine handed me Jazz for Kids: Sing, Clap, Wiggle, and Shake—an album he bought for his daughters—so that I could listen to Clark Terry “Mumbles” over Oscar Peterson’s glibness of piano technique. It turns out that I already have this masterpiece (of course I should have it because I am a jazz piano freak also, and Peterson was my man), but the whole record blows me away. It is such a fantastic compilation for kids to jam with.
Ella Fitzgerald has me swinging to “Old McDonald” with her playful rendition. By applying her melodic embellishments and child-like sensibility, she makes one of the most annoying songs of all time sounds superior. The arrangement is hypnotizing—particularly the way the trumpet imitates the chicken sound. In contrast, Slim Gaillard uses his vocals to imitate the chicken voice in “Chicken Rhythm” and his scat sounds exactly like a trumpet. The result is amazing. I am having a blast grooving to the “Chicken Rhythm” like a little kid in the roller-skating ring (I am sure you all remember those chicken dances).
From Lionel Hampton’s “Rag Mop” to Carmen McRae’s “When The Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bobbin’ Along” to Blossom Dearie’s “Doop-Doo-De-Doop (A Doodlin’ Song),” Jazz for Kids is a perfect collection for both the parents and kids to enjoy. If you love jazz and would like to introduce her to your kids, this album is highly recommended. But make sure you let them know that Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” is not true jazz. Not sure why it was included in a jazz album when Pops had tons of classic scat songs in his early Hot-Five-and-Hot-Seven days. Other than that, I have been rocking this kiddy joints again and again just so I can feel young all over again. Now let me go train my two-year-old nephew, who doesn’t want to talk yet, to mumble along with Clark Terry and show my six-year-old niece to do the chicken dance, or the other way around.