***Jim Gill***

One sentence review: The soundtrack of a Broadway musical about the best Toddler Time ever. OK, I can't stop with one sentence, so I'll just say that anyone who begins an album with a reference to the Marx Brothers is aces with me.

Jim Gill's newest musical offering, Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times, is the fifth in his series of wonderful kids' albums, and they just keep getting better. This aptly-named collection of tunes contains several movement and activity songs, along with some singalongs, call-and-response songs, and narrated tunes, all disguised as well-written, witty, and professionally and enthusiastically played songs.

Several of the tunes would work well with a preschool group, including the instructional "Swing Your Partner", the Simon Says-like "Jump Up, Turn Around", and the hand motion workout of "Sliding, Rolling, and Jumping". They're such great numbers in and of themselves that you forget these are basically activity songs. You want silly? Listen to "Family Goodbyes", "Face the Facts", and "Backwards Day". Jim lets his band stretch out and show their chops on "Drumming the House", "Delay on the Freeway", "Crazy Shoes Theme", and "Jim Gill's Groove", while the men's chorus accompaniment in "Hello, I Must Be Going", "Strollin' Down the Road", and "Face the Facts" reminds this listener of the group on Monty Python's Flying Circus who would appear out of nowhere and sing an appropriately silly song. Jim rounds out the album with the Pete Seeger-like "California", an image of tiny Jim Gill hanging on to a trombone for dear life in "Tromboning", and the happy-go-lucky sentiment of "Strollin' Down the Road". It's reassuring to know that there are artists who have enough faith in their little listeners to include lyrics about catalytic converters, staccato notes, and trombones, and to feature multirhythmic, multipart arrangements.

Jim is a passionate advocate of libraries and the power they can have in our children's lives, especially in their use as showcases of great performers and their music. He's also a strong believer in non-commercial kids' music, that is, music that is not manufactured specifically for mass sale and distribution through conglomerate media machines who know whit about children's imaginations and intelligence. I'll quit ranting long enough to encourage you to visit Jim's website, talk to him about the current and future states of this genre called "Children's Music", and let him know what a great job he's doing. Captain Spaulding would be proud.

No comments:

Post a Comment