Various Artists

Putumayo Kids Presents: Caribbean Playground

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Part of the World Playground series on the new sublabel Putumayo Kids, Caribbean Playground takes a nice little romp through the Caribbean, making stops at most of the major islands and including a bit from elsewhere. The course of the album bounces around from location to location, but since this is a kids' album, it keeps a light sound. To summarize, this is much more Bob Marley than Peter Tosh. Taj Mahal starts the journey with his Hula Blues band, followed by Desmond Dekker showing off some ska on the classic "Jamaica Farewell." Kali plays the banjo over a little bit of mixed Martiniquean music, and Keith Frank covers "Three Little Birds" -- in zydeco (here's an interesting twist on a sound if there ever was one). Frenchman Karl Zero enlists the remaining Wailers to help out on "Coconut Woman," and Marlene Dorcena represents a bit of light Haitian song. Making the first trip to Trinidad, Asheba shows off some soca groove, mixing in folktales of Anancy that have made the way from Africa -- the requisite cultural storytelling for a kids' album. Puerto Rican expatriate Jose Gonzalez shows off some bomba, another Haitian act plays a bit of the resurrected twoubadou, and Tongan reggae fanatics MissionIriez take on some transcontinental reggae. Finishing off the album are Luc Leandry's zouk and another round of soca from Trinidad. The sound can be a bit juvenile and repetitive for adults from time to time, but then again, adults aren't the audience for this one. That said, the artists are almost without exception standouts in their fields, and the music is of high quality as a result. As such, the album makes a nice groove for anyone, regardless of age.

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