There to the left is the cover art for Dan Zanes' new album, Little Nut Tree, which will be released on Zanes' Festival Five Records on
September 13 now September 27. (Woo!)
As always, the album features a cavalcade of stars: Andrew Bird ("I Don't Need Sunny Skies,” a Zanes original), Sharon Jones (R&B classic “Down in the Basement”) the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars (the title track, originally by the Melodians), and Joan Osborne (another Zanes original, “Everybody’s Going to be Happy”).
In addition to the big names, longtime Zanes fans will be happy to hear that in addition to his band (featuring Sonia De Los Santos, Colin Brooks, Saskia Lane and Elena Moon Park), other past collaborators such as Father Goose, Barbara Brousal, Bonga, Simon Kirke, Donald Saaf, and Tareq Abboushi will be on the album. Also appearing will Shawana Kemp AKA Shine from Shine and the Moonbeams, who is poised to make a big splash on the kids music scene in the upcoming year.
Zanes is embracing the idea that this album is a "return" to family music. (His albums after the Grammy-winning Catch That Train! weren't necessarily in that vein, with spiriturally-themed, Spanish-language, and Broadway-sourced albums made in the meantime.) He cites Smithsonian Folkways albums as an inspiration and as for its general mood, Zanes says, "Little Nut Tree is the grooviest of the Dan Zanes and Friends family series CDs although you could still nap to it if you needed to." Nap to a DZ CD? Never!
And, yes, Donald Saaf is doing the artwork, full board book style, once again for those folks like me still wedded to the physical medium for their music.
There's one more collaboration on the record, and that's with Los Angeles' Harmony Project, which "targets at-risk youth in underserved areas of Los Angeles" and promotes "positive youth development through on-going year-round music lessons and ensemble participation." In retrospect, given Zanes' recruitment of a local Latin jazz band here for his show here in Phoenix, it seems clear that Zanes is getting even more interested in the idea of music education. The ensemble's participation on "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" is a logical extension of Zanes' longstanding interest in community-based music.
The video below discusses the partnership in greater detail...