Allegra Levy: Songs For You And Me

Acclaimed jazz singer and mother sings over self-penned music located in The Night Garden of Makka Pakka and Igglepiggle

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Jazz on singer Allegra Levy’s album aimed at children and families is stealthily located in the Night Garden undergrowth of Makka Pakka and Igglepiggle and other TV fantasy lands. Levy is an acclaimed jazz vocalist, composer and lyricist but confesses that her “listening demographic” shifted during the pandemic from “dingy urban basement clubs” to “a bright and beaming” audience of one – her newly born daughter Stella Plum.

With self-penned titles such as Noodles!, Clap Your Hands, and I Got A Boo-Boo, and a jolly singalong approach to her own lyrics – I made a bowl of macaroni/Doo-doo-doo-da-doo-doo BALONEY! – kids would appear to be a captive audience. Once corralled, they could be weaned off the Jim Crow songs she encountered while working in pre-school education in Manhattan.

That in itself would be enough to commend the album to every kids’ playgroup in the land for whom songs are often accompanied, in the UK at least, by a toy xylophone played in the style of Hi-De-Hi’s Gladys Pugh. But there’s another reason, and that’s to disperse the scrub-a-dubba lyrics in a jazzy style.

Thus does the album’s fun element have a serious side, expressed in the marshalling of more than a dozen musicians, a range of sentiment, and, in the opening Hello Song, the assembling of kids’ greetings from across the world – in Farsi, Hebrew, Vietnamese, French, Mandarin, Zulu, Polish, Japanese and Korean.

Not every jazz singer flashing plaudits from Downbeat and the New Yorker would bother to take this kind of time out. Jazz needs a new generation of performers and listeners. Good on her!

Discography
Hello Song; Noodles!; It’s So Hard To Be You; Los Animales; Clap Your Hands; In The Tub; Hip, Hip, Hooray!; I Got A Boo-Boo; Toodaloo, Kangaroo!; The Way Of The World; Imagination; Stella For Star; A Quiet Song (34.00)
Levy (v); Neha Jiwrajka (v, f, pc); Jason Yeagar (p, org, kyb); Andrew Baird (g, bj, uke); Timothy Norton (b); Sammy Wags (d, pc); and others. New York, August 2022.
Little Moon Records