I'm surprised there aren't more albums like Diana Panton's I Believe in Little Things. Given that jazz often takes classic songs and standards as the basis for creating something entirely new, why haven't jazz musicians devoted more attention to classic kids' songs?
On her new album, the Canadian jazz singer Panton doesn't reach all the way back to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but instead uses classic twentieth century songs written for kids' entertainment as her starting point. So she turns to Sesame Street songwriter Joe Raposo, Kenneth Ascher and Paul Williams' songs from The Muppet Movie, and some Disney, among others. Panton's crystal-clear voice is a delight to listen to, with her backing musicians (primarily Reg Schwager on guitar and Don Thompson on bass, piano, and vibraphone) providing a subtle background from which her voice shines without being brassy, which would serve these songs poorly. As lovely as the renditions are, the musicians explore the songs to a point that some listeners with short attention spans may drift off ("When You Wish Upon a Star" clocks in at nearly six minutes). As a result, I'll peg the 55-minute album's target age range as ages 5 and up.
I hesitate to call this "kindie" or "kids music" -- remove the delightful album art by Jacqui Lee and replace it with abstract shapes or stylish pictures of Panton and her band, and it's a tossup as to whether it'd be filed in "children's music" or "jazz." Having said that, the answer to that question is probably a tossup under the current album art as well and probably irrelevant -- it's an album kids and adults are both likely to enjoy settling down with. Recommended.
Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.