Oct 4, 2012
As a kid, I was first exposed to music by listening to records like “Tubby the Tuba”, “Peter and the Wolf” and “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” These were the recordings that introduced me to the joys of sound, and also of collecting records.
I kind of wish Mark Oblinger had been working back in the early Sixties when I could have profited from his work. A former member of rock band Firefall, he has had a long history of award winning work as a songwriter, composer, producer and performer. He created and produced two national award winning Jazz CDs for children, Jungle Jazz Joint Jam and Jazz Joint Jump and has won 5 Heartland Emmy Awards for his work as a composer/producer for the PBS Children’s Show, “The Big Green Rabbit”,
His latest project, JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale, is a delightful mixture of jazz combo, orchestra, singing and a snappy narration. This is a CD adults will actually ENJOY listening to along with their kids.
Oblinger brought together a jazz combo (Christian Teele on drums; Chris Engelman on bass; Bob Rebholz on sax and flute; and partner Steve Barta on piano) as the foundation for the music, and then recruited several certified jazz legends for some of the vocals. Grammy winners like Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau and Hubert Laws were excited to lend their talents to the project. Other horn parts and strings were added to flesh out the sound, and the whole thing was unified by the witty narration of James Murray.
We talked about music education, the fun he has working with and for children, and his great desire to perform the piece live with symphony orchestras across America. Concerts have already taken place with full orchestra and jazz quartet in Colorado and Milwaukee and were met with widespread critical acclaim. More information how these shows can be booked is found on the Jumpin’ Jazz Kids website.
Click here to listen to Podcast 308, featuring musical selections from the CD, including:
Al Jarreau – “Do the Monkey Swing” from JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Steve Barta felt that Jarreau would be perfect for the project, and simply called the singer’s management to see if he might have interest in participating. The result is a pure fun.
Dee Dee Bridgewater - “This Elephant’s Gerald” from JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Oblinger wasooking for a voice that characterized the smart yet sassy style that embodied their “Gerald” character as well as the soul of the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. He and Barta were instantly sold on Ms. Bridgewater after listening to the bass and vocal version of the classic “It’s Your Thing” she contributed to Christian McBride’s Conversations with Christian CD.
Hubert Laws and Al Jarreau – “Hubert Hummingbird” from JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Originally the song was called “Hector Hummingbird”, but when the great flutist got involved in the project, Oblinger and Barta quickly changed the title in homage to his talents. There is a great scat section that was improvised live in the studio.