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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

PUTUMAYO KIDS PRESENTS: CARIBBEAN PLAYGROUND

By Judson Kilpatrick

Putumayo

Having made a mint with its Reggae For Kids collections, the Putumayo label expands the concept to include bomba from Puerto Rico, zouk from the French Caribbean and soca from Trinidad, along with Jamaican reggae. Blues/folk great Taj Mahal kicks off the set by taking kids on a musical trip around South America on the "Great Big Boat," then ska legend Desmond Dekker contributes a lively remake of "Jamaica Farewell," famously a hit for Harry Belafonte. Keith Frank does a zydeco version of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," one of the best kids' songs ever, while the Wailers make an appearance, backing French TV star Karl Zero on the calypso classic "Coconut Woman" (another Belafonte hit). Trinidadian Asheba tells the old West African story about the trickster spider hero "Little Anancy" over a peppy rhythm, and the soca band Atlantik closes the album with the party jam "All Aboard." All of the songs are infectious and fun, and the liner notes (in English, Spanish and French) tell kids about the various musical styles and countries represented.