The recording label that coined the term “world music” has broken into the Young Listener audience and no, I’m not talking about competing with the Jonas Brothers.
Putumayo recently unveiled their first releases in their new “playground series” and they appear to be on the right track. Three of the first four titles have a Latin theme running through them that I could not help but notice. Here is a quick rundown of them.
Latin Playground is a compilation of up-tempo songs for the kid in all of us. Omara Portuondo opens the set and sets the pace with “Guantanamera”. Other standouts include Cubanismo doing a foot-tapping, finger snapping, “Mardi Gras Mambo”, Terri Hendrix’ offering of “Lluvia de Estrellas” and legend Flaco Jimenez checking in with a truly memorable “De Bolon Pin Pon” on this eleven song album featuring songs from nine different Latin American countries.
Sure to be an instant hit, with “Reggae Playground”, Putumayo received an incredible response from Jamaica’s surviving musical royalty with contributions from Toots and the Maytals (“Take Me Home Country Road”) and Rita Marley (“Haramble”) as well as a regal performance of the Beatle classic “Here Comes the Sun” done by The Burning Souls. It’s an impressive list of bona fide reggae masters whose contributions lend credence to
Putumayo’s credibility on this project. But the disc is also a nice international compilation, including kiddie reggae ditties from Indonesian, French and Hawaiian performers.
All the Putumayo Playground CDs come with concise intros about the regions and cultures covered in each particular disc, a nice little historic blurb for the kids and their parents. The Latin Playground especially does a good job covering Latin Culture, concentrating on that culture’s history in The Americas. It should be noted as well that the emphasis of the music on all the discs is to have a good time, also highlighted in the notes which, as with all Putumayo productions, are in English, Spanish and French, as are all the lyric sheets and notes on each individual performer and their songs. And
Putumayo contributes a portion of each sale to their Foundation Cross-Cultural Initiative, which introduces children (and their families) to varied world cultures in positive and educationally stimulating channels, in an attempt to open doors of communication and to encourage peaceful relationships among peoples of all ages and backgrounds. As The Beatle song says, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all!”
Putumayo CDs are available at the Jaime Peligro book shops in Playa Tamarindo, Nuevo Arenal and Quepos, where they will gladly sample the music for their customers. All comments concerning this article are welcome.