Well, our troops are home from Afghanistan after 20 years. So much for an attempt at nation building in somebody else’s country. Speaking of nation building, that’s the focus of Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats’ new EP, What Kind of World? (from 8 Pound Gorilla Records).
After winning two (yes, two) Grammy awards, Kalantari is flexing her lyrical muscle. There’s no filler among the five tracks on What Kind of World? and plenty of guest stars to move the band’s messages. The first track, “Friendship Party,” features Jazzy Ash and Joelle Lurie (JoJo and the Pinecones) and touts the pre- and post-pandemic fun in seeing (and being with) friends. COVID has affected all of us and the Jazz Cats were not exempted. Trombone player Ron Wilkins suffered the virus, but required a tracheotomy and spent a month in a coma. “Round and Round” celebrates the flexibility and courage it takes for get through a crisis, individually and collectively.
The title track, “What Kind of World?” is a power ballad about – wait for it – international building. SaulPaul guests on vocals with a kindie choir including Little Miss Ann, Flor Bromley, Joanie Leeds, Julie Be, Snooknuk, Sonia de los Santos, and Lachi, an electronic music star and disability advocate. Wait, there’s more – a string section composed of Elena Moon Park, son Darius, Erich Schoen Rene, Charisa the ViolinDiva, and Paul Laraia:
What kind of world do you wanna see?
What kind of world do you want it to be?
Ask yourself these questions from time to time.
Check in and see what you find.
Kalantari is in the forefront of the evolution of children’s music, as the kindie movement of the past two years has reached maturity. Some artists are satisfied to produce lullabies, holiday songs, and other comfortable material. But there are societal customs to confront and stereotypes to challenge. On the EP closer, “Art,” the Jazz Cats acknowledge that human life if fleeting but the art we leave behind can affect generations of listeners. Kalantari is utilizing her music to help children envision a better world. That’s something we can all get jazzed about.