A year ago, Raffi--the superstar of children’s music--ended a seven-year hiatus from making studio children’s recordings with the buoyant, Grammy-nominated album “Bananaphone.”
This year, that new, more playful and light-spirited Raffi returns in “Raffi Radio,” another effervescent album released today, with original and traditional music in a radio show setting.
Joined by superb musicians, kids, vocalists--including a Canadian jazz ensemble--and Sleido JazzDog, Raffi’s new puppet pal, the “Down by the Bay” singer serves up a mixed bag of radio jingles, songs and chat.
A nod to the traditional is found in a bubbly “Skip to My Lou” and “Six Little Ducks,” but most of the appealing songs are new, written by Raffi with pianist/keyboard artist Michael Creber. Musically sophisticated and smoothly executed, they range from a lovely soft jazz ode to sunflowers and such uncloying “heart songs” as “Ripple of Love,” "(Just Be) Whatever You Choose” and “Every Child,” to the lip-smacking “Kitchen Sing Sing” and “Sleido’s Song,” about “the waggliest, shaggliest” canine “on the hair-waves.”
“Silly Panel” talk inserts with Creber, and “Berry Nice News” reports about seasons and bananas are only faintly amusing--you probably had to be there. Luckily, the spots are brief and more than made up for by other short talk/music bits. Highlights include Raffi’s “interview” with a saxophone (played by Tom Colclough) and his “Weather Report,” an explanation of nature’s water cycle told with a storyteller’s hush, set to evocative music: “We begin with sun on salt water. . . . “
* Raffi Radio, MCA/Shoreline/Troubadour Records, CD: $13.98; audio cassette: $9.98.
Working Women: Fly a jet, doctor a horse, create art--the new home video, “A Girl’s World,” the first in a series, seeks to open young girls’ eyes to a variety of career choices by profiling real-life women, in this case a pilot, a veterinarian and an artist whose medium is glass.
Some of the “natural” dialogue sounds forced--and at the glass studio, muffled--but watching the three women on the job, each with a young girl observer along for the audience to identify with, is engaging enough to inspire a sense of expanded possibilities.
Suzanne the pilot takes 13-year-old Meghan up in the sleek passenger jet she flies; veterinarian Annie shows 9-year-old Lauren how she treats her equine patients, and Karen, the glass artist, shows 8-year-old Ashley the fragile creations that are born in fiery furnaces.
The straightforward, informative show ends on an unexpectedly amusing note with a series of funny outtakes as the end credits roll.
* “A Girl’s World,” Laurie Hepburn Productions, $19.95; (800) 275-9101.