An unusual performer with an unusual instrument, saxophonist Sooz has raised the bar for children's music through her jazz and pop tunes for kids. Sooz's original tunes and sophisticated arrangements are equally at home in the living room and the kids' room. And her sensitive, child-centered lyrics make her songs understandable to the child in all of us.
A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Sooz grew up in the New York City area in the '50s and '60s. She was drawn to jazz, and counted Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane among her major influences. Sooz attended Rutgers University and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, but soon returned to the New York City jazz scene with a variety of jazz bands. From 1975 to the early '90s, Sooz made a name for herself through her versatility in multiple jazz forms, including Latin, worldbeat, and pop.
And then she became a mom, and her focus changed. Concerned about the lack of appropriate music for her own kids, Sooz launched a second career as a children's artist. She did it by producing three albums in three years. In 1993, Sooz released A Song for All Sizes, and quickly snapped up Parent's Choice Honors. The following year, Sooz released Every One of Us, again winning Parent's Choice Honors. And the year after that, Sooz focused on younger children with Favorite First Songs. Sooz capped off this feverish pace with a Parent's Choice Gold Award in 1995.
Some of the standout songs of these first albums include "Joanna's Kitchen," with a rich saxophone solo, and "When Daddy Plays the Drums (And Mommy Plays the Saxophone)," an upbeat going-to-bed song that will have the whole family falling on the couch with exhaustion. Each of the inventive songs on the albums feature sophisticated arrangements with non-synthesized instruments.
As Sooz's own kids grew older, her focus changed again. In 1997, she released I Wanna Iguana, an album for older children, with songs about getting along in the schoolyard and finding joy in reading. Although the content was more sophisticated than in her first albums, the rich arrangements and interesting instrumentation stayed the same.