Jazzy Ash “Swings” Her Way To The Top Of Phil’s Picks’ 2017 top New Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Leaping Lizards Music

Children’s music, this critic has noted time and time again, is one of the most underrated genres of the vast musical universe.  To this day, so many people still have the belief that children’s music is cutesy pre-school level material that will only appeal to its young target audiences.  The reality of children’s music is that while some of that music does appeal mainly to younger listeners, just as much of it will appeal to older audiences, too.  The bluegrass sounds of the Okee Dokee Brothers, the hip-hop vibes of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and even the light jazz arrangements of Diana Panton prove that there is just as much music out there that will appeal just as much to adults as it will to children.  That being the case, this critic is hereby proposing that the music industry eliminate the term “Children’s Music” from here on out and replace it with the term “Family Music.”  Now with that in mind, this critic has been focusing quietly a handful of Family Music albums yet again this year, and this year’s list has some interesting new additions that will indeed appeal to the whole family including the list’s topper, Swing Set, from veteran Family Music entertainer Jazzy Ash.

Also included in this year’s list of new Family Music offerings is the soundtrack to the Junie B. Jones stage play, Dolly Parton’s (yes, Dolly Parton) I Believe In You, Danny Weinkauf & The Red Pants Band’s Totally Osome! and so many other offerings.  As always, this critic’s list includes the top 10 New albums plus five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 records.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY MUSIC ALBUMS

  1. Jazzy Ash — Swing Set
  2. Ladysmith Black Mambazo — Songs of Peace & Love for Parents & Kids Around The World
  3. Putumayo Presents — Cuban Playground
  4. Putomayo Presents — Italian Playground
  5. Junie B. JonesThe Cast Album
  6. Mr. Dave — Feeling Good
  7. Mister G. — Green World
  8. Danny Weinkauff & The Red Pants Band — Totally Osome!
  9. Paper Canoe Co. — Beanstalk Jack
  10. Dolly Parton — I Believe In You
  11. Twinkle — Just Dance
  12. Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights — Brooklyn Baby!
  13. Hullabaloo — The Best of Hullabaloo
  14. Laurie Berkner — The Dance Remixes
  15. Dana Cohenour — Dana’s Best Jump & Jam Tunes

That’s it for this list, but not it for Phil’s Picks year-ender lists.  With this list out of the way, there are still lists of the year’s top new Jazz & Blues albums, rock, hard rock & metal albums, live recordings, albums of the year, and plenty of DVD/BD lists.  Since time is short in the year, Phil’s Picks will offer multiple lists each day in an effort to make it to the year’s end.  So stay tuned for all of that.

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Classical Recordings Take Top Honors As 2015’s Top New Children’s Albums

The mainstream and independent music industry have both generated their fair share of impressive records in 2015. This includes both full-length albums and EPs. Of course for all of the success that both realms have shown one would be remiss to ignore the realm of music for the whole family. That realm has seen the release of a number of impressive records, too. Recess Monkey returned again this year with yet another fun new album. And children’s classical label Maestro Classics released a pair of interesting releases, too. New entries from Jazzy Ash, Josh and the Jamtones, and Alex & The Kaleidoscope among others have proven to be just as impressive. Those acts’ albums are all on this year’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums along with five more that have once again gotten honorable mention. Without any further ado here is the Phil’s Picks Best New Children’s Albums.

2015 TOP NEW CHILDREN’S ALBUMS

1. MAESTRO CLASSICS — THE NUTCRACKER
2. MAESTRO CLASSICS — MERRY PRANKS OF MASTER TILL
3. RECESS MONKEY — HOT AIR
4. JOSH AND THE JAMTONES — ROCKSTEADY
5. ROCK ‘N RAINBOW — LET’S BOOGIE
6. CATHY FINK & MARCY MARXER — DANCIN’ IN THE KITCHEN: SONGS FOR ALL FAMILIES

7. ALASTAIR MOOK AND FRIENDS — ALL KINDS OF YOU AND ME
8. JAZZY ASH — BON VOYAGE
9. THE BAZILLIONS — ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
10. FUTURE HITS — TODAY IS FOREVER
11. THE POP UPS — GREAT PRETENDERS CLUB
12. ROCKNOCEROS — PLYMOUTH ROCKERS
13. ALEX & THE KALEIDOSCOPE — GET ON BOARD
14. LUCKY DIAZ AND THE FAMILY JAM BAND — ADELANTE
15. MIL’S TRILS — NOW THAT WE’RE FRIENDS

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Jazzy Ash’s Third LP More Than Lives Up To Its Title

Courtesy:  Leaping Lizards Music

Courtesy: Leaping Lizards Music

Later this month, children’s entertainer Jazzy Ash (a.k. Ashli Christoval) will release her latest album Bon Voyage.  Only her third full-length studio release, this latest collection of songs from the New Orleans-born singer and her band mates–Steve Lorentzen (accordion, banjo, drums, percussion), Anthony Shadduck (upright bass), Alex Sadnik (saxophone), Shaunte Palmer (trombone) and Amador Alvarez (guitar, piano)–is one of the most surprisingly entertaining children’s albums to be released so far this year.  That is because of its Dixieland and swing style jazz as a backdrop for a group of songs that in themselves will entertain not just children but audiences of all ages.  The combination of both elements together proves this record in the end to be not just one of the most surprisingly entertaining children’s records of the year but one of the best among its genre so far this year.

Jazzy Ash’s latest full-length studio recording Bon Voyage is one of this year’s best and most surprisingly entertaining children’s albums to be released so far this year.  This is proven throughout the record in large part thanks to the talent and originality displayed by the group’s namesake Ashli Christoval and her band mates.  Christoval and company take a road that is not taken very often even among their counterparts within the kindie-rock realm in terms of musical styling.  From the album’s Dixieland style opener ‘Jazzy Ash Theme Song’ to the zydeco sound of ‘Leap Frog’ to the Afro-Cuban sound of ‘Hide and Seek’ to the classic jazz styling of the album’s lead single ‘Heebie Jeebies,’ Christoval and company leave no stone unturned through the course of this twelve-track recording.  Even more impressive is the fact that over the course of those songs (and the others not noted), the band doesn’t just play the notes.  There is real talent and attention to detail put on display in each composition.  For example, in ‘Tight Rope,’ [Steve] Lorentzen’s work behind the kit and [Shaunte] Palmer’s work on the trombone alongside Christoval’s own delivery combine to paint a rich, vivid picture of a person in tights up high in the air, preparing to take to the high wire.  That is evident through the use of the musicians’ use of dynamics and accents at specific points.  The same can be said of the catchy ‘Buddy,’ which sees Christoval’s band mates playing the part of a train rolling down the tracks.  Lorentzen’s gentle use of the brushes on the snare drum apes the sound of a train’s wheels rolling along the tracks while Palmer’s work on the trombone echoes perfectly the sound of the train’s whistle along with a fiddle to boot.  The swing jazz styling of ‘Firefly’ paints its own rich picture of a firefly flying around on a summer night, lighting up the darkness.   Audiences can see the whole thing play out as Christoval sings of the little firefly going about his nightly rounds alongside her fellow musicians.  It’s one more example of how the musical side of Bon Voyage makes this record a collection of songs that more than lives up to the album’s name.  Whether for the noted songs or any of the album’s others, the record is whole proves in regards to its musical content to be a collection that in whole is its own bon voyage.

The musical content and talent put on display across the course of Bon Voyage more than makes clear what makes this record its own bon voyage and one of the year’s best new children’s albums, too.  It is just one part of what makes the record overall so impressive, too.  The lyrical content presented in each of the album’s twelve songs makes the record in whole even more enjoyable for audiences.  That is because while there are songs included on this album that directly target younger listeners (E.g. ‘Firefly,’ ‘Hop to School,’ ‘Leap Frog’) there is also a number of songs that will entertain older listeners just as much as their younger counterparts.  Those songs come in the form of ‘Buddy,’ ‘Tandem Bike,’ ‘Jazzy Ash Theme Song,’ and ‘Heebie Jeebies.’  The fact that such a broad swath of songs is featured throughout the course of Bon Voyage shows great potential for Christoval and her band mates.  It shows the potential for the band to become something more than just a children’s act; an act more akin to The Okee Dokee Brothers than any of its fellow pure children’s entertainers.  It would in fact be interesting to see this group of musicians assemble a record that is composed purely of jazz in all of its varied forms but contains lyrical themes that will entertain the whole family rather than targeting specific members of the family (I.E. parents and children).  Such promise exhibited via both Bon Voyage’s musical and lyrical content alike shows even more why this album is such a standout collection and one that is deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

The collective musical and lyrical makeup of Bon Voyage reveals this record to be one of the most surprisingly original and enjoyable children’s albums released so far this year.  Both elements play their own highly important role in the success of this record.  While they are both of equal important to the success of Bon Voyage, they are not the do all end all for the record.  The album’s sequencing plays its own important role in its success, too.  As a matter of fact, the sequencing rounds out the ways in which Bon Voyage lives up to its name. Listeners will notice in taking in this album from beginning to end that it balances its energy levels perfectly. The whole thing opens with the laid back Dixieland styling of ‘Jazzy Ash Theme Song’ and gradually picks up along the way as is obvious in ‘Leap Frog’ and ‘Buddy.’ There is an equally noticeable change of pace as the album progresses through ‘Heebie Jeebies’ and into the much more laid back vibe of ‘Ice Skate,’ ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Firefly.’ The album’s closer ‘Goodbye in the Bayou’ brings everything full circle perfectly with its celebratory zydeco sound. It is that exclamation mark at the end of a musical statement that viewers will want to hear again and again. Such solid sequencing set alongside the talent of the musicians and the wide swath of lyrical content makes a complete experience that the whole family will enjoy.

Far too often, the term “bon voyage” is used as people prepare to embark on a long trip. The problem with this is that the phrase is not limited to this situation. It has just been assigned that designation by so many people. It can also be used as a descriptor as in the case of Jazzy Ash’s new album as is obvious in the combination of the album’s musical and lyrical content. The album’s smart sequencing proves that even more. The combination of all three elements together makes Bon Voyage a musical voyage that is not just good but great. It is a musical journey that audiences of all ages will enjoy with every listen.   Audiences will agree with that sentiment when they hear the album for themselves when it drops later this month. It can be pre-ordered online now at https://squareup.com/market/leaping-lizards-music/cd-bon-voyage-jazzy-ash-preorder. More information on Bon Voyage is available online now along with all of the latest news from Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards at:

 

Website: http://www.jazzyash.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/heyjazzyash

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HeyJazzyAsh

 

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