The Cool School remains the most complex and contradictory album in the June Christy catalog: a collection of children's music crafted without sentimentality or saccharine, it brilliantly articulates the confusion, isolation, and yearning that form the core of childhood experience. Equally surprising, the arrangements are the most direct and unadorned of Christy's career, eschewing horns and cotton-candy fluff to focus squarely on her crisp, nimble vocals and the Joe Castro Quartet's driving rhythms. Familiar songs like "Swinging on a Star" and "Looking for a Boy" are stripped of artifice to recapture their innate power and mystery. In short, The Cool School celebrates the intelligence of children, and refuses to pander to audiences of any age. This generous two-fer release also includes another creative detour, Christy's fascinating interpretation of Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green's little-known 1960 Broadway musical Do-Me-Ri. The songs are lightweight but appealing, affording Christy the opportunity to cut loose and have some fun. Her trademark intelligence and sophistication nevertheless remain intact, stripping tunes like "I Know About Love" and "Make Someone Happy" of their over-the-top theatrics to focus squarely on their emotional underpinnings. Half of the record comprises an instrumental set led by Christy's husband, tenorist Bob Cooper, and featuring West Coast giants Buddy Collette, Bud Shank, and Conte Candoli; Cooper's efforts are no less impressive, adding depth and panache to Styne's featherweight melodies.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny