Category: By the bug

''...On these jazzed-up renditions of traditional children's songs, Sumi moves between English and Japanese with the kind of ease kids exhibit when playing with children from other countries. Every song moves between her own translated (to English) lyrics and the Japanese originals. The musicians, all from Japan, throw in quotes from Thelonious Monk, blues licks, harmonica wails and funky bass to create fascinating textures. Sumi's husky voice ranges over this musical grain with playful improvisations, extended choruses and wordless scats.

Though most Japanese will have learned these songs by heart as children, they will have a hard time singing along, since the simple melodies are given complex chordings and smoothly shifting harmonies. The heavy thump of African percussion and the taut pat-a-pat of tabla reconfigures the bland rhythms and corny sing-songy beat no-doubt dictated for elementary music classes by the Education Ministry. In short, she does everything usually forbidden in standardized choral groups. Sumi's restoration work returns these songs to their initial, pristine beauty...''




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