Review in Brief: Josh Levine for Kids - Josh Levine

JoshLevineForKids.jpgWhen playing toddler standards, simplicity works wonders, but it's also nice to take a slightly different approach from the hundreds of recordings that have preceded you. Josh Levine for Kids, from New York City musician Josh Levine stands out from most by mixing in some Latin songs in with the English-language standards (and sometimes reworking those). For example, Levine turns the "Alphabet Song" and the "Hokey Pokey" into gentle mambos. (I liked the slight but snappy "I Am a Pumpkin," featuring the Venezuelan cuatro, in particular.) On the Latin side, the slinky "Tiburon" ("Shark") showcases Levine's keyboard work and "Mi Cuerpo Hace Musica" has nice percussion work from Levine and Guillermo Cardenas. Levine also lends his alto to his own music accompanying Edith Segal's "A Real Bouquet," a sweet song in praise of diversity.

Though the album encourages movement on the part of the listener, in general it exudes the mellow vibe of a lazy, sun-drenched afternoon. I kept on having "Getz/Gilberto" flashbacks -- I wasn't expecting "The Girl from Ipanema," really, but there's a certain timelessness to the jazzy Latin rhythms that will keep it from aging. I think the 22-minute album's most appropriate for kids ages 2 through 7. You can hear samples at Josh's music for kids page.

Whether you're looking for some slightly different takes on toddler favorites, to broaden your family's musical palette, or just for a nice, low-key 20-minute timeout, Josh Levine For Kids is a good place to start. Recommended.