La Habana: Rio Conexion is saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera's attempt to bring the gospel of historical bolero to American listeners. These 12 cuts are steeped in the grand Cuban tradition and reinsert its cultural and historical center into a music that has been watered down to the point of being nondescript. But, of course, this is also a jazz recording, and D'Rivera is a jazz musician. The rhythmic and harmonic extrapolations are minimal, however, and focus on the integral form of the music whether it be the album's opening danza, Ernesto Lecuona's "La Comparsa," or the chorinho that closes the proceedings, Pixinguinha's "Segura Ele."
Classical music for children has been an underserved genre, even though nothing could be more beneficial to the cause of bringing the music to future generations. Any such release is worthy of note, but one like this, charming and original, is cause for celebration. Pianist Jenny Lin organizes for children some favorite compositions and a few delightful rarities along a timeline "from breakfast to bedtime." There are 26 short pieces, enough to give a feel for the variety and importance of this tradition in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Along the way you get Chopsticks, which you may not have known was an actual composition with an actual composer (female, at that), former chestnuts like Grieg's Grandmother's Minuet, the utterly charming I Danced with a Mosquito by Anatoly Liadov, ragtime and jazz works, and, to end, starlight familiar (Mozart) and more rare (Selim Palmgren), plus the famed cradle songs of Brahms and Chopin. Lin and the engineers from the Steinway label create a magical atmosphere, amplified by excellent children's illustrations in the booklet by Mikela Prevost. An ideal holiday, or anytime, gift item.
Jenny Tseng - Yan Nei' is a Macau-born singer, actress and producer, mostly known in Cantonese-speaking regions, based in Hong Kong for much of her career.