OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

The Soundtrack for Going Green

Many moons from now what will we most certainly remember about the year 2008?
Here’s my short list:

  • Insane gas prices.
  • The subprime mortgage fiasco.
  • The many women Roger Clemens has bedded while being shot in the ass with ‘roids.
  • The Greening of America.

Over the past several months we have seen a definite trend in American consumerism and that trend comes in a variety of green hues all designed to, on some level, help preserve our fragile planet but mostly just to sell us more shit we don’t need.

Reactionary Conservation meets Insatiable Consumption in an epic death match!

Thanks to this televised movement we have also learned how committed big oil companies are to renewable energy (yep) and that Waste Management is our environmental partner (uh-huh). and oh yeah…Wal-Mart is a dedicated steward of earth (and people) friendly practices.
It’s almost enough to make ya vomit.

Fortunately for all of us there is a truly genuine movement, maybe it’s even considered a sub-movement at this point, existing somewhere just below the layer of green manure (Eco-Dyed green compost available now at The Home Depot!!!) smothering us these days. This sub-movement ain’t a trend or a fad. Instead it is comprised of real people trying to make a difference in their own lives, their community and, thinking more holistically, the planet. Unlike most of the people tripping over themselves to be more green than their neighbor, these folks will probably still be working hard to cure what ails this world even after gas prices come back down to earth.

Anyway…where was I? Oh yes…Hayes Greenfield, a NYC jazz man and the brilliant sax player behind the Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz program designed to bring the beautiful power of the world’s greatest musical style to children, has just released (on Earth Day, as luck would have it) a record entitled Music For A Green Planet. It’s destined to be the soundtrack for a young green America.

Believing correctly that children are the key to saving us all from certain environmental doom, Hayes and a gaggle of impressively talented friends, including the legendary Joe Lee Wilson, have crafted an entire album around one simple idea – Saving The Planet. To accomplish this weighty task Hayes and the gang have built songs around the framework of recognizable kiddie standards (“This Old Man”, “Rock a Bye Baby”, “Little Bo Peep”, etc.) only with 100% original earth-conscious lyrical content. In less capable hands this idea would produce one of the corniest and most asinine records ever made but with Hayes Greenfield at the helm what we have is a brilliant study in environmental issues that we’re all capable of fixin’ set against the backdrop of toe tappin’ jazz. The genius of this disc is that the rhythms, while fresh and engaging, are inevitably familiar to kids and are able to capture their attention even if they’ve never before been exposed to jazz. The clever lyrics then nudge open the door to fascinating conversations with young learners hungry to understand new things and filled with the earnest desire to help “save the polar bears!” as the Bear would exclaim.

If of all that isn’t enough for you Music for a Green Planet includes what will without a doubt be one of the most breathtaking and powerful songs released this year. “The Things We Throw Away“, sung by eight year old Carly Sonenclar (from the Broadway cast of Les Miserables), is a haunting examination of all the tiny items we often don’t end up using but still discard on a daily basis (think packs of ketchup, duck sauce, napkins, etc.)

Hayes talked to me about “The Things We Throw Away” after his show at World Cafe Live months ago, making it a point to call out this cut specifically. This was before I had even heard the record. His passion for the Music for a Green Planet concept was clear and his love of “The Things We Throw Away” was evident. Now that I’ve listened to the track over a hundred times (no joke) his love is immensely justified. While the lyrics and the vocals are terrific it is the music that makes “The Things We Throw Away” shine so bright. The bass line carries the weight of the heady topic on it’s broad shoulders while the saxophone and guitar take turns invoking both sadness and hope. Stunning.

Listen to a sample of “The Things We Throw Away” and the rest of the album here.

Not only is the music top notch but this may end up being the most visually appealing records released in 2008 (although Ellis Paul’s “Dragonfly Races” will be tough to beat). The record is packaged in recycled cardboard and features a lovely musical tree drawing on the cover (that would look so cool on an organic cotton American Apparel Tee – hint, hint)

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