Jazz CD Reviews
Phil Woods: The Children’s Suite (Inspired by the verses of A.A. Milne) Jazzed Media
Published on March 13, 2009
(18-piece band with Phil Woods, composer/conductor/alto sax; Vicki Doney & Bob Dorough, vocals; Peter Dennis, narrator)
This is an enchanting jazz suite with songs, inspired by the stories of A.A. Milne. Woods got the idea to set some of them as songs in 1961 when he was unpacking his own children’s Milne books after one of many family moves. He eventually wrote 15 of them and much later arranged them into this suite.
However, getting clearance to perform the pieces with a narrator, orchestra and singers, or to record them, was steadfastly barred by the Milne estate and Disney, owners of the rights. 40 years after writing the songs Woods ran into the one person licensed by the Pooh Trustees and Disney to perform Milne’s works on stage, and this person – Peter Dennis – finally made it possible for Woods to be allowed to perform and record his music.
The selections are a delight, beautifully capturing the simple appeal of Milne’s childs’ world. The vocals by Boney and Dorough are also a kick; Bob is of course just right for this task based on his popularity with all the boomers who grew up on his Multiplication Rock songs on PBS. Never mind that he’s now hit his eighth decade – his distinctive insouciant Arkansas voice takes us back to a swinging childhood. He also contributes some of his unique electric piano stylings. Their duets on The Friend, Us Two, Knight-in-Armour and The Morning Walk should be most appealing to all ages. Two of the tracks feature just narrator Dennis and the instrumental scores.
Whether you have kids to hear this or not, I say “Bother!” – pick one up for a swinging trip back to the 100 Acre Woods, the Heffalumps and the Woozles.
TrackList: The Good Little Girl, Come Out with Me, Zneezles, Pinkle Purr, Down by the Pond, Waiting at the Window, Buttercup Days, The Friend & Us Two, Furry Bear, Knight-in-Armour, Wind on the Hill & The Engineer, Solitude, The Morning Walk, In the Dark & The End.
– John Henry