Renowned jazz singer Annie Ross confirms what many of us who have raised families already knew, viz., that music for young children need not be limited to cute, often cloying, and always musically uninteresting, nursery rhymes. Children come with no preconceived musical notions shaping the kinds of songs that will get their attention. If it's got a beat, swings, and isn't too loud, they will likely enjoy it. That's just what Cool for Kids offers, a set of nine songs with catchy rhythms and lyrics that will attract not only the very young set, but their elders as well. Typical is a lilting version of Danny Barker's "Save the Bones for Henry Jones," a duet where Ross is joined by Doug White. Ross is the godmother for White's son, to whom this album is dedicated. White does a bit of scatting on this track, a set of vocal mouthings that will likely be familiar to a baby. "Cool MacDonald (Had a Pad)" is a hip version of the old nursery rhyme with the farm replaced by bachelor's quarters. In addition to White, Ross is joined by those excellent musicians who are part of the Juniper stable, especially the very good Chris Bergson on guitar, whose presence enlivens virtually every track. As for Ross, the voice obviously has matured since she started her remarkable career in the 1950s. But her sense of timing, her phrasing, the allegiance to pitch, and ability to swing a tune remain impeccable. There are three bonus tracks, all instrumentals by the White's quintet. "Double-O Joe" highlights the drums of Joe Strasser, "Moon Song" the pianism of Mike Kanan, and all feature White's modern tenor sax. This is good stuff for kids and their adult mentors as well.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan