Review in Brief: Brazilian Playground - Various Artists (Putumayo)

BrazilianPlayground.jpgThe latest in Putumayo Kids' "Playground" series, Brazilian Playground continues Putumayo's tradition of selecting appealing tracks from cultures near and far and mixing them together for families' enjoyment.

A stroll through Putumayo's typically well-done liner notes reveals that many of the songs weren't written with kids in mind -- songs about love or dancing until dawn. Of course, the foreign-language nature of the songs allow parents to use themes as a jumping-off point and the music as a dancing-off point. Claudio Jorge's "Coco Sacudido" ("Shaken Coconut") is about a Brazilian religion with a lot of rituals and ceremonies -- your kids won't care, they'll just be dancing to the big band. For the kids who've been raised on their parents' Bebel Gilberto CDs, Marissa's brief electronica bossa nova "Alo Alo" ("Hello, Hello") will sound familiar. One warning about the disk, though -- the CD's description of the tracks as "lively" is somewhat generous -- the two tracks above are among the more shimmering and vibrant of the tracks here. Which isn't to say that the rest of the CD is bad, just that the overall vibe is a bit more subdued than I'd expected. More 4 PM (if not quite 4 AM) than 9 AM...

Musically, the 36-minute CD is appropriate for kids of all ages, though kids ages 3 through 7 will probably respond to the kids' voices in some of the songs. You can hear samples (and download a teaching guide) at Putumayo's page for the CD (released a couple weeks ago), or hear samples elsewhere on the web. If your family has enjoyed Putumayo's previous Playground releases, they will enjoy this one, too. It's another good compilation. Recommended.