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.


  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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Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble LP Not Just For Kids

Courtesy:  Crosspulse Media

Courtesy: Crosspulse Media

Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble’s new release, I Like Everything About You is being marketed as a children’s/family album.  While it is being marketed to younger audiences, the reality of this album is that it is an album that everyone will enjoy.  With its mix of African, Afro-Cuban, Blues and bluegrass, this five member act has crafted an album that is solid from start to finish.  The album’s opener, ‘Walkin’ The Dog’, is proof of that.  It is a fun, bluegrass style song with music and lyrics that equally infectious.  As the included liner notes state, it takes elements of various nursery rhymes and puts them into a setting that will have parents and kids alike singing and whistling) along.  And because the mix of rhymes is presented in a bluegrass format, it’s ironically so easy to see the group sitting on a country store porch, singing this to a group of young listeners.  It expertly sets the mood for what is not just one of the best children’s albums of the year, but interestingly enough, one of the year’s best albums overall.  The songs rooted in African music may are an especially enjoyable addition as they will instantly lead to comparisons to veteran performers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

I Like Everything About You only gets better after the album’s opener.  As already noted, this album boasts not just bluegrass and blues, but also an equally solid mix of African and Afro-Cuban music.  The latter pair is exactly what audiences get in the album’s second track, ‘Yamawele.’  This song shows the group’s roots in African music both lyrically and musically.  It includes the use of what sounds like Agogo Bells, a Talking Drum, and various other African percussion instruments.  This song is such an important piece of the overall presentation from Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble in that it isn’t just another song.  With such variety of instrument, and the vocals, it serves as an excellent starting point to discuss both a genre of music to which many young listeners may be unaccustomed and a culture to which they may be unaccustomed, too.  No doubt with its rhythms and impressive singing, it will impress adults, too.  Yet again, it’s more proof of what makes this such an enjoyable record.

Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble proves with the first pair that it means business and that it has more than its share of talent as musicians and vocalist.  Things only get better as listeners get into the album’s third song, ‘Body Beat.’  There is no easy way to describe ‘Body Beat.’  This a cappella piece allows the ensemble to exhibit its skills as a step team.  The beats created by the ensemble using its own bodies will have listeners of any age grooving.  That’s just one part of this song’s success.  Listeners will especially appreciate the call and response portions of the song, especially late in the song when that call and response between the group’s members hit a rapid fire pace.  That all of the group’s members were able to pull that off without missing even the slightest beat is incredible to say the least.  It is that level of talent and skill that makes ‘Body Beat’ one of this record’s absolute best songs, if not its best overall performance.

Things don’t let up at all after the first trio of tracks on I Like Everything About You.  Listeners get to enjoy even more mix of African, Afro-Cuban, Blues, and Bluegrass, throughout the remainder of the album’s dozen total tracks.  That is exhibited in songs such as ‘CooCoo’, ‘Krin’, and the album’s closer/title track.  Lyrically, it’s a simple song.  Even as simple as it is lyrically—it is a near nine-minute song with the vocals largely being a repetition of “I like everything about you.”  This could be interpreted both in so many positive avenues.  And it’s because of that that having been placed at the album’s end, it was a good way to close out the record.  These are words that everybody should be saying to one another.  And hearing these words as a young one falls asleep will help keep a young listener calm as he or she falls asleep.  It’s just one more of so many positive pieces of this standout children’s/family release.  I Like Everything About You is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct from the Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble Website at http://www.crosspulse.com/merch-cd-cpe-i-like.html.  For more on Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble and its projects, go online to http://www.crosspulse.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.