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Jude Johnston
Produced by Jude Johnson and Carl Horton Hamilton (Ont.), Straightup Productions, 1992. audiocassette, $12.00
Distributed by Straightup Productions. 34 Sunset Ave., Hamilton, Ont. L8R1V6

Pre-school to Grade 3/Ages 3 to 8

Reviewed by Christine Buchanan.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

Singin'and a Swingin' is the first children's album from Jude Johnson, a jazz/blues singer, composer and performer who has previously released three adult recordings. This collection of thirteen songs for children certainly has a strong jazz fueling throughout. All selections were written by the singer except for five, and for most of these she supplied additional lyrics.

Jude Johnson has a clear, strong voice which conveys great conviction and energy. The instrumental support (including piano, keyboards, bass, percussion, electric and steel guitars, trumpet, violin and harp) is varied and well orchestrated. The album generally has a high-octane feeling, though there are a few quieter pieces and lullabies.

About half the songs, such as "Tidy Up," "10 Ducks," and "I Am Getting Bigger," are ideal for a pre-school audience. There are also several pieces with a strong environmental message such as "Earth Song" and "Environ­mental Piggy." Older children would enjoy some of the environmental and jazzy pieces, but might not appreciate songs about looking at outgrown baby clothes and acting out motions for cleaning up one's room. Adults would probably want to use this tape more selectively with children over the age of about seven.

Librarians and teachers may find some useful pieces for programs here, so it is regrettable that words and/or music are not included. One slightly raucous song, "MacDonalds," which describes going to several fast food restaurants, may not be to everyone's taste and may sit strangely with all the songs about saving the Earth. Others may see it as a humorous and off-beat look at the real world children live in.

Two additional notes: the tape comes with a black-and-white cover that children are encouraged to colour themselves, since it is going to be part of their own collection, a nice touch. Less fortunate perhaps, is the choice of title, which is very close to Singing 'n Swinging by Sharon, Lois and Bram, and may lead to some confusion.

Pre-school children, some older children, teachers, librarians and in fact anyone who likes both Ella Fitzgerald and Raffi will enjoy this energetic and rather original addition to the children's music world.

Recommended for home, school, and library use.

Christine Buchanan is an instructor with the Scarborough Board of Education in Toronto, Ontario.
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