Jazz for kids (and the rest of us) II  

Posted by Denis Haack in , ,

The delightfully creative people behind Coal Train Railroad (CTRR) are at it again. Even if you are not given to public displays of emotion, their second CD, Coal Train Railroad Swings, will make you smile and tap your foot. The lyrics are childlike (without ever being childish) reveling in the simple wonder children sense in the ordinary things of life.

There are flakes under my fingernails
and a smidgen in my socks

I’ve got a landfill up my nostril—
plus I found some little rocks!

My mom says “I declare, you could get dirty anywhere!”
I made mud pies with Edwina and you told me I should share
What are you supposed to do?
The stuff is everywhere
Dirt [from “Dirt”]

It’s true that the wisdom of maturity brings sober reflection on the brokenness of life but that should never be allowed to sweep away wonder in a tidal wave of drab solemnity. Coal Train Railroad Swings helps us to remember that, and reminds us of the joy that springs from simple wonder at life.

Now that the inside’s empty
and the stuffing’s all unpacked
Don’t send that to recycle, bring it here
With some crayons, glitter glue and masking tape
It’s a terrarium or a biosphere

Give me the box that came along with my shoes
I can get rid of the blues
I can make my own room or a robot that talks
I can do almost anything with a box 

Just let me keep the box that my present came in
I can make the present double
If I’m driving you crazy just give me a box
I'm almost guaranteed to keep out of trouble
I can do almost anything with a box [from “With a Box”]

Good music does far more than entertain. It reveals something about reality—about creation, about our selves, about life and death, about God—that we cannot know fully by any other means. After I say all I can about a good song, the song still says more. “Forgive me if I don’t have the words,” Ella Fitzgerald once said. “Maybe I can sing it and you’ll understand.” This is a precious thing to know, to experience, and to introduce to children. Cheap music fills the background of postmodern society, like static slowly hardening our souls to the significance of art. The people behind CTRR know the difference and are speaking into that chaos with music that reminds us that beauty has a depth all its own.

CCRR is the creation of Katy Bowser and Chris Donohue. Katy’s clear, lovely voice along with Chris’ superb musicianship and the appearance of a number of top flight instrumentalists, including saxophonist Jeff Coffin of The Dave Matthews Band means Coal Train Railroad Swings is a work of jazz worth savoring. These are people who love children and beauty, and have honed their skill in music so that they can speak to children without ever talking down to them.

The sun is sizzling on the concrete deck,
Lifeguard’s whistle keeps the runners in check,
I lost my goggles but what the heck?
S’just another day at the pool.

Jake’s big brother climbed the water slide,
zoomed down the trough and his suit came off!
That's what happens when ya go down backwards,
S’just another day at the pool.

Za...zou turned her towel into a circus tent,
Story learned to paddle and away she went,
Henry’s little sister had an accident (YIKES!)
S’just another day at the pool [from “(Just Another) Day At The Pool”]

Order a copy of Coal Train Railroad Swings for yourself. You don’t have to admit that you listen to it, but you will. And order a copy for each child in your life. You will be giving them a gift that teaches wonder and the joyous freedom of jazz and the learning process will be so delightful they won’t know they are being taught. What could be better?

Source: Ella Fitzgerald online (http://ma.tt/jazzquotes/Ella-Fitzgerald).

This entry was posted at Wednesday, November 30, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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