***Nikolai Moderbacher***

You'll have to pardon the crappy photography, but I wanted to give you an idea of the concept of this CD package, lest you think I had inadvertantly posted a white square. Remember back in 1987 when Sammy Hagar ran a contest to let fans name his latest album? Turns out I Never Said Goodbye was the best they could do ... Anyway, Brooklyn-based music instructor and wood artist Nikolai Moderbacher goes one better by allowing each listener to create the cover art for their own copy of his kids' album Tabula Rasa.

Niko's music is sonically similar to Mr. David's style: eclectic with out being weird, and simple while being memorable. Check out especially the wittily-titled "Chew, Chew Train," the alphabet nonsense song "ABACA," and the ode to boo boos, "Au." And dig the charmingly odd arrangements in "Take Off the Crumbs," not a far throw from those that The Who's John Entwhistle was so fond of ("Boris the Spider," "Fiddle About").

The loping "Wake Up" sounds like a low-key Daniel Lanois production, and "When I Was a Baby" is a great 3/4 - time rewriting of the classic "Cotton Fields." Dance along with the samba-influenced body part identification game "Baby Baby," and the Mediterranian-flavored tribute to the "terrible twos," "No, No, No." Then settle down for the day with a quiet version of the traditional Austrian lullaby "Haidschi Bum Baidschi."

Moderbacher recruited fellow Music Together instructor Rachel Friedman to help out with the vocals on half of the songs, and his wife Pyeng Threadgill on one. Moderbacher even utilized the rhythm section from his wife's jazz combo on several of the tunes, and all the songs have a great recorded-at-the-same-time-in-one-room sound, giving the whole project an intimate, personal feel. Super kids' debut that's perfect for the whole family.

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