Friday, July 14, 2006

***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.

10 comments:

Lil' Cowboy 2.0 said...

Thanks for the well deserved review of Jim's latest CD. I, too, think it is one of the best children's music CDs for the early childhood set.

Jim marches to his own drummer (as "Drumming The House" proves) and his message to parents and teachers that music is the perfect forum for play cannot be overstated!

In a market of children's music that is flooded with artists and projects, it is wonderful to see Jim getting the recognition he deserves. His style is unique, extremely musical (thanks to the work of Steve Rashid) and always child-centered.

Thanks again,
Fred

Warren Truitt said...

Thanks for your positive comments, Fred. It really is amazing to find children's artists who put so much heart and soul into their work. The best way to let people know about one-of-a-kind kids' musicians like Jim is to contact your local librarians and teachers, and let them know that such wonderful resources are available.

wt

Anonymous said...

hi, Warren -
Jim is surely hitting his stride with this new CD. He understands kids so well - and works with top-notch musicians and producers. I'm glad to see your review!

Beth in PDX

Anonymous said...

Our family are huge fans of both Jim Gill and the Marx Brothers! Both make us laugh and make us think...long after their performances.

If you ever get a chance to see Jim perform we highly suggest you go...it's not about seeing a performance, it's about living the music and enjoying it!

Liz, Joe and Quinn

deb in sf said...

this was neat stuff. My son (6) and I listened to some of the songs on his site. Max LOVED the trombone song. We had to listen a few times. And then he had to go around drumming the house. He was inspired (a vocab word he learned by watching another percussionist). Thanks for introducing us to more new cool music.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I can't add much more about the fun-lovin' man, Jim Gill. I had heard just one of his songs prior hearing/seeing him in person while sharing his gift of mixing songs, silliness and learning as the Tuesday Morning Keynote songleader at the Kindergarten Conference for Michigan Teachers earlier this summer. After hearing his Keynote and afternoon session on Music, Language and Literacy I purchased all FIVE of his cd's to share with my kindergartners!!

Two weeks ago I began sharing Jim's music with my 19 month old grandson while my husband and I were watching him for the day. This little guy held my hands and began dancing right along with me, and within minutes he had gone over and grabbed his grandpa's hands and had him dancing along, too!!

What a blast!!

Grandma C

Marcy said...

Hi Warren,
My 14 month old daughter recently got to experience a Jim Gill performance at her daycare center. Her teachers told me she was dancing and having a blast. I had not known of Jim Gill before that day, and have since gone out and bought a CD and visited his website. He is amazing! I am not sure who is having more fun-my daughter or me. We are hooked! I am also glad to have been advised of your site and will keep reading your reviews and recommendations.
Thanks!
Marcy

Toby said...

Well, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be one of the only reviewers who listened to Jim as a kid, but I think Jim deserves all the credit he can get. When I was around 2 or 3, my mom recieved a package from my uncle, who had just started recording childrens music. The tape inside was Jim Gill's first album. I've known "Uncle Jim Tapes", as I used to call them, probably because I couldn't pronouce the titles, my whole life and I've always had his music around my house, first being listened to by me, and then my younger sisters. While I always loved the lyrics as a kid, I never concetrated much on the actual musicianship that goes into the album. Songs like Tromboning and Drumming the House feature not only lyrics that are great for kids, but music that anybody can enjoy. I can't recomment Jim's music highly enough, and this is music that every child deserves to hear.

Kids Music said...

It is a very nice and good post. Keep up the good work.

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