Jazzy Kid Songs 2
2019 / John Paris
Review by Kathy Parsons
Jazzy Kid Songs 2 is the sequel to John Paris’ 2017 release, Jazzy Kid Songs, and is his twelfth album to date. As he did with the first album, Paris combined his love for jazz piano with his love for his grandkids (a photo of them once again graces the album cover) and created a collection of ten fresh solo piano jazz arrangements of songs many of us learned as kids plus a new original piece. Paris sums it up in the liner notes: “This album is dedicated to the kid in all of us! May the music bring a smile to your face and make you tap your toes. May it also bring you memories of the childlike spirit within as reflected by the cover photo of my beautiful grandchildren.” In other words, this really isn’t a children’s album because the arrangements are complex and not that easy to sing along with, but I’m sure many children will enjoy the fun and honesty that Paris injects into all of his music, as will adults. More sophisticated listeners will be fascinated with how Paris took these simple melodies and made them his own with jazz harmonies and rhythms; several have extended improvisations within the songs.
The album begins with “Frere Jacques” all dressed up in a playful swing rhythm and an easy groove - a great start and not at all what you’d expect from the simplicity of the original song. “Polly Wolly Doodle” sports a slower but buoyant swing rhythm in the first half of the piece; the second half is much freer and dreamier before it fades out at the end. I had to laugh at myself because I couldn’t remember most of the words to “Billy Boy,” so I had to look them up! Paris’ fascinating arrangement again has a slow groove but abundant energy and playfulness. “The Ants Go Marching” has the same melody as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and Paris’ arrangement has a steady, slightly funky marching rhythm in the deep bass of the piano while the right hand dances merrily all over the piano keyboard. “Hush Little Baby” again had me scurrying to Google to refresh my memory with the lyrics. A sweet lullaby feeling graces a little more than half of the piece, and then the gentle arrangement gives way to a bluesier couple of minutes and a quiet, soothing finish. Love it! “Camptown Races” is lively straight-ahead blues with a touch of whimsy mixed in. Pure fun, “The Wheels On the Bus” has a steady bass pattern, sounds that imitate car (or bus) horns and a lighthearted, fanciful melody. The middle passage has a quickly-flowing spinning motion and then returns to the joyful tune. I really like this one, too! “There’s a Little Wheel” follows, and is a beautiful, soulful ballad with some fancy embellishments here and there. The exuberant closing track, “Recess,” is the John Paris original, and what fun it is! Sure to evoke a big, happy grin!
Jazzy Kid Songs 2 is another great album from John Paris and generously shares the joy of making music with all who listen to it. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as various streaming sites.
October 18, 2019