So, does everybody indeed want to be a cat?
July 15, 2012 9:18 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find exciting jazz pieces that might entertain my (almost) 4 year old son!

So, recently, I acquired Disney's The Aristocats, and it's been on semi-permanent repeat with my (almost) four-year-old and my (almost) two-year-old.

I don't mind so much, it's a cute film, and I get a kick out of much of the voice acting. And this tune is a favorite with the offspring.

So, I'm in my truck with the kiddos, fiddling with the radio. For some reason or other, my kids have outgrown The Clash, and the (almost) four-year-old says: "Dad, can you play some JAZZ?"

I switch it over to the local high-school's jazz station, and it's all California-made electronic easy-listening jazz. Pretty much a failure on all parts.

So, I know, the usual responses of Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong (hell, I'm a Louisianan ferchrissakes), but, I'm looking to make a 'special' CD full of exciting, iconic jazz tunes, with a bit of vocal and heavy horn, as I think that's what the kiddos are looking for.

I'm happy to take any suggestions you fine folks have....
posted by The Giant Squid to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
My youngest nephew is crazy for Duke Ellington. He could listen to "Take the 'A' Train" all day.
posted by scody at 9:32 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

My kid loves Lambert, Hendricks, Ross. Cloudburst is always a fave.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:35 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

This video interpretation of Coltrane's Giant Steps has been a reliable hit among a few kids I know.
posted by xil at 9:36 PM on July 15, 2012

Can't go wrong with Dizzy Gillespie. Maybe Salt Peanuts?
posted by fishmasta at 9:39 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I grew up singing and dancing to Bobby Short albums
posted by rtha at 9:39 PM on July 15, 2012

Just about anything from this Charlie Christian album: The Genius of the Electric Guitar.

Charles Mingus — Moanin'
posted by John Cohen at 9:50 PM on July 15, 2012

Not exactly what you asked, but doesn't the cartoon Tom & Jerry use jazz extensively? The original version, that is.
posted by Ys at 9:56 PM on July 15, 2012

I can't remember where I came across it, but I've always liked the jazz/ragtime mix "Sweltering Solar Rag" by revival band Blue Bone Express.

John Boutté's "Tremé Song" (used to intro the HBO series) is also really fun and catchy with a modern twist.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:59 PM on July 15, 2012

That tune you linked to makes me think:

Cab Calloway ("The Hi-De-Ho Man")
Louie Prima ("I Wanna Walk Like You" from Disney's Jungle Book flick, "Jump Jive & Wail")
try some other Jump Blues artists
Glen Miller ("In The Mood", "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", "Pennsylvania 6-5000")
Benny Goodman ("Sing Sing Sing")
Count Basie Orchestra ("One O'Clock Jump", "Jumpin' at the Woodside")
posted by soundguy99 at 10:03 PM on July 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

When I was little I loved Lambert Hendricks and Ross's Sing a Song of Basie – and my 7-year-old niece loves it now.
posted by nicwolff at 10:20 PM on July 15, 2012

Ella Fitzgerald has a huge repertoire of great tunes in a variety of jazz styles.

Dave Frishberg does good singing/piano/ small ensemble jazz that's a bit quirky and humorous.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:20 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vince Guaraldi
posted by rhizome at 10:41 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Here's King Louie singing I Wanna Be Like YoU from Jungle Book.)
posted by likeso at 10:42 PM on July 15, 2012

When I was 2 and 4, I loved Louis Prima's Please No Squeeza Da Banana. Still do and the original 78 has long passed to me. With the wonders of Amazon MP3, here it is. (Other versions there run too slow, I just found.)

I always wondered why RCA hasn't released a "Glenn Miller for Children" or something album. He did lots of kid friendly songs. Here's a list of 6.

Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong (which knocked The Beatles off of Billboard #1 in 1964!)
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:44 PM on July 15, 2012

Kids love the Nawlins jazz! try the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Tailgate Ramble. Great trombone fun.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:55 AM on July 16, 2012

What part of "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" in particular is a hit? It goes through some different feels and tempos. What it doesn't have is the later bop style associated with people like Davis, Coltrane, and Mingus. I'd stay away from them.

What I'd suggest is looking into some bandleaders that played horns (since you mentioned it), and especially into Dixieland (Hot/Trad/New Orleans jazz), which is definitely heavier on trumpet/trombone/tuba than other styles. With that in mind, take a look at

- Louis Armstrong
- Kid Ory
- Jack Teagarden
- Wingy Manone
- Turk Murphy
- Lu Watters
- Firehouse Five Plus Two
- Dutch Swing College Band

I'd also make a suggestion for Fats Waller, who was quite playful and could be a big hit.

I can give you more band/artist suggestions and specific song suggestions, but that'll have to wait. Right now I really need to get some sleep.
posted by cardioid at 2:28 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are never too young to attend a live jazz show. Usually CDs are available for purchase from the lesser known acts and easy enough to find from better known acts. Then you can have conversations like "do you remember when he played this song..."
posted by caddis at 2:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jean-Luc Ponty
Ponty's "Mystical Adventures"
posted by Goofyy at 3:41 AM on July 16, 2012

As a kid (and still as an adult), I LOVED Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. It is interesting and dynamic and exciting and just fantastic.

Also, kids love scat. Find songs with scat. You'll soon find your child walking around the house doing their own version of scat (which is hilarious).
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 3:44 AM on July 16, 2012

I should add: IMO, the album Mystical Adventures is vastly superior to the linked performance.
posted by Goofyy at 3:44 AM on July 16, 2012

Love this thread! My 3 1/2 year old is currently all over Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive, especially the title track, and it's great to watch him dancing out to the fast ones.
posted by Mchelly at 4:23 AM on July 16, 2012

Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, especially for its versions of Watermelon Man and Chameleon.

Also Mingus: Blues & Roots and Folk Forms. The Clown is also awesome but probably best avoided at this sensitive point in your child's life.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:07 AM on July 16, 2012

Dizzy Gillespie's 'School Days' album, with Diz and Joe Carroll singing.
posted by box at 5:16 AM on July 16, 2012

Instrumental and no horns, but the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Unsquare Dance was a hit with my siblings and I when we were kids. Possibly the catchiest 7/8 tune ever.

Maybe some Scatman Crothers? (They may recognize his voice from The Aristocats!)
posted by usonian at 5:32 AM on July 16, 2012

Ella Fitzgerald's "Lullaby of Birdland" came right to mind for me.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:53 AM on July 16, 2012

Can't recommend highly enough "Classical Baby," an awesome animated HBO show that used a lot of jazz (despite the title). Seriously, these shows are so good, I'd sit and watch them by myself, but they absolutely captivate the little ones. "The Art Show" episode, in particular, uses an awesome piece of Ellington called "The Ricitic" (in the clip "Trucks").
posted by jbickers at 5:54 AM on July 16, 2012

I grew up with Jazz all over the place. I'm a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan, especially singing the Cole Porter and Irving Berlin songbooks.

I second Bassie as well. How about Lionel Hampton and his vibes?

How about Celia Cruz for a more latin feel? Azucar!

Tito Puente?

Yeah. Like that there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2012

Technically not jazz but always fun: Louis Jordan.
posted by tommasz at 6:03 AM on July 16, 2012

For more old-school Disney awesomeness: I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

> Technically not jazz but always fun: Louis Jordan.

He was definitely jazz, and I think he'd be perfect for this.
posted by languagehat at 7:15 AM on July 16, 2012

Whoa, Louis Jordan is totally jazz! It's great small group jump swing and perfect here: Choo Choo Ch'Boogie, Five Guys Named Moe, and tons more that little ones will probably love.

2nding Fats Waller, too - great catchy stuff with neat soloing that's also often hilarious: Your Feets Too Big, It's a Sin To Tell A Lie, etc.
posted by mediareport at 7:19 AM on July 16, 2012

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Twisted
Cab Calloway - Minnie the Moocher (bonus: you can show the kid clips from 'Sesame Street' and 'The Blues Brothers')

Some more out choices:

Archie Shepp - Quiet Dawn
Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln - Triptych: Prayer, Protest, Peace
posted by box at 7:21 AM on July 16, 2012

(Alternately, both Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway have songs about food--that might be a good way to go.)
posted by box at 7:21 AM on July 16, 2012

I don't care if my cousin refers to him as Harry Chronic Loser; Just Kiss Me is infectious. Your kid will wiggle and wiggle and wiggle.
posted by Madamina at 7:47 AM on July 16, 2012

Squirrel Nut Zippers for a something a bit more recent.
posted by brujita at 8:36 AM on July 16, 2012

My dad introduced me to Louis Prima when I was about 4 or so and it's still basically the greatest thing ever.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on July 16, 2012

If I were making this CD, it would absolutely have to include this and possibly also the Herbie Hancock track that it samples.
posted by clavicle at 10:37 AM on July 16, 2012

Raymond Scott wrote a lot of the skightly-wacky jazz that got used in a ton of hte old cartoons. (also look under the group The Beau Hunks Sextet) Here's a youtube from Warner Brothers that's a montage of animations that have been set to his tune "Powerhouse" over the years. Many of his pieces are real classics, and have a lot of energy.
posted by aimedwander at 12:09 PM on July 16, 2012

posted by Madamina at 2:26 PM on July 16, 2012

I recently put together a huge jazz playlist with an energy/vibe that our 3 year old really enjoys... it's perfect for when we're making art, cooking, or doing other such projects. Some of the artists included (other than those mentioned above) are:

Lester Young (who offers, IMHO, the best possible introduction to mid-century jazz that one can find!)
Django Reinhardt
Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces
Stuff Smith
posted by departure lounge at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not jazz, per se, but! I'd like to suggest the Meters. I was inspired by the OP's Louisianian heritage and some of the suggestions upthread. "They All Ask'd For You" is a fun song (also, animal-themed lyrics!), and a good introduction to a historic New Orleans funk band (with solid roots in the traditional jazz/improvisational music of the region).
posted by freeform at 8:33 PM on July 16, 2012

Ooh — Bob Dorough! (And I say this only partly because he was one of my mom's favorites, who became one of mine over time.)

You're most likely to know him from Schoolhouse Rock — he wrote and performed the very first one, Three is a Magic Number, as well as many/most of the other songs.

Some of his other "regular" (not intended for kids the way Schoolhouse Rock was) songs:
I'm Hip
Just About Everything
Baltimore Oriole
Old Devil Moon (has fun scatting)
I'm Beginning to See the Light
posted by Lexica at 8:44 PM on July 16, 2012

« Older Rescue me! Stories of heroics & love   |   At least she knows she doesn't want to be a farmer... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.