Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jack Grunsky-World Safari (2004)


Staying with the theme of children's music for a moment, I recalled a past request for albums released by this Canadian singer/songwriter whose earliest professional recordings date back to at least the late 60's. By the time the 80's arrived, Jack's music direction had shifted away from music for the adult mainstream audience, releasing several children's-themed albums that many of his followers may not be too familiar with. In fact, I believe there is a certain Jack Grunsky music collector from Jack's birthplace of Austria who might be missing some of these aforementioned post-70's releases. 2004's "World Safari" is potentially one of them, and although it may have been advertised as and intended to be for the elementary school kids, it turns out that this thirty-five-minute adventure is quite appealing for the older generation as well. Well both the kid in me and the easy-listening music lover in me thoroughly enjoyed the opener, "Siyanibingelela" (you'll have to listen to get the proper pronunciation), which teaches a way to say 'hello' in African tongue while also showing other ways to greet someone in various international languages (I could readily make out the Spanish 'hola', the French 'bonjour', and the Hawaiian 'aloha', plus possibly the greetings in Japanese, German and Italian). The learning opportunities further arise on the storytelling journey, "Dream Catcher" (it's nice hearing him talk about the Native American belief about the objects commonly created and hung on walls to chase bad dreams away; I myself even have a dream catcher hanging up in my own bedroom), and "All The Rivers Flow Down", where Jack mentions the names of lots of different rivers of the world: the Orange, the Niger, the Mississippi, the Susquehanna, the Euphrates, the Danube, the Yellow, the Columbia—the cool thing is that I know where all of these rivers are located! Besides the geography lesson, what I liked in particular about the latter one is the smooth jazz sound beneath the breezy guitar-driven music. "Up The River" presents a similar sound&mash;smooth jazz in combination with a jungle-like rhythm and the ethnic voices chiming in the background giving the song a peaceful, ceremonial feeling. I could almost categorize Track #5's "(It's Raining, It's Pouring) Big Thunder, Dark Cloud" as something for the world music genre, given how the tribal beat marches along with the rhythmic sound of the hollow wooden sticks adding a colorful texture to the instrumental presentation. There's a song here that's sure to be a fun hit for the kids in the classroom: "Gypsies". This lively sing-along will have them dancing and clapping and shouting 'ole' and clicking the castanets. In short, there's a song for all ages along this "World Safari" adventure; which one of them will be your favorite place to stop?

1. Siyanibingelela
2. Gypsies
3. Paddle My Canoe
4. Moose & Caribou
5. (It's Raining, It's Pouring) Big Thunder, Dark Cloud
6. Little Samba Girl
7. My Tree
8. Mrs. Tuckaway
9. Up The River
10. Dream Catcher
11. Water From The Well
12. All The Rivers Flow Down

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