Disney Jazz Volume 1: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat

Artist: Various Artists

Produced by: Walt Disney Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When you think of Disney, you think of an innovative company that has produced some of the most famous and entertaining films and television series of our time.  When you think of jazz you think of a genre of music, somewhat difficult to define, but one that is extremely influential.  Put the two together and you have one of the most unique and interesting albums of all time.

            Disney Jazz Volume 1: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat is a compilation of some of Disney filmsí greatest music re-envisioned in jazz mode.  The album features thirteen tracks of songs we all know and love from our childhood, including Chim Chim Cher-ee, Some Day My Prince Will Come, Youíve Got a Friend in Me, Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag), Itís a Small World, Circle of Life and more, all receiving the jazz treatment from artists like Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding, Nikki Yanofsky, Dianne Reeves, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joshua Redman and more.

            Re-inventing these timeless classics while still maintaining the integrity and meaning of the songs could not be an easy task.  And yet, the artists featured on this album seem to have done so perfectly with little effort.  Dianne Reevesí sexy, sultry voice seems to add just that more meaning to the Lady and the Tramp song, Heís a Tramp Toy Storyís Youíve Got a Friend in Me has just a tad bit more spice as performed by Joshua Redman.  Never could I have imagined Mary Poppins in jazz mode, but we find two songs receiving the jazz treatment - Chim Chim Cher-ee and Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag) with equal skill and grace.

            The piano solos were amazing, the horns sultry and smooth.  The percussion, ranging from fast and out of control to soft and enticing, represented the extraordinary range of what jazz actually can be.  Even violins, accordions and kora get into the mix, adding another layer of texture to the culturally driven genre.

            My only complaint is the rendition of Gaston by The Bad Plus.  I have always enjoyed the comedic and vaudevillian style of this song from Beauty and the Beast.  Perhaps I just donít share the same vision as The Bad Plus, but I found that by speeding things up, they made the song barely recognizable.  I thought that if the song were slowed down a notch and some jazz percussion added in, Gaston could have been quite enjoyable.  To me, The Bad Plus version is not only difficult to recognize, but hodge-podge-ish, erupting with a cacophony of sound and little substance.

            All-in-all, I found this first volume of jazz interpreted Disney hits to be quite enjoyable and wonder what the second volume might bring.  Disney Jazz Volume 1: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat is less for kids and more for the adventurous adult, one who can appreciate the re-invention of time honored classics into something new and exciting.  Disney Jazz Volume 1: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat will be available for jazz aficionados everywhere January 25, 2010.


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