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Music Review: 'Bon Voyage,' Jazzy Ash


Jazzy Ash grew up in California, but her music is deeply rooted in the sound of New Orleans. On her latest album, "Bon Voyage," she draws on zydeco, jazz, blues and swing to create songs for the youngest listeners. Our kids music reviewer, Stefan Shepherd, tells us more about one of the most talked about children's artist in this year.


STEFAN SHEPHERD, BYLINE: Offstage, she's known as Ashli Christoval, but kids probably know her best as Jazzy Ash. Growing up, Christoval was surrounded by two things - jazz and toddlers. Her mother - a native of New Orleans - ran a day care in their home. Now on her new album, "Bon Voyage," Christoval folds New Orleans's rich musical tradition into songs for the kindergarten set.


ASHLI CHRISTOVAL: (Singing) Oh, I've got the heebies, I mean, the jeebies. Talking about what the heebie jeebies do because your boy gives you sweet, a little bit of joy. Hey, don't you know...

SHEPHERD: That's her covering one of New Orleans's best-known native sons, Louis Armstrong, on "Heebie Jeebies," a song he made famous. But her musical career has been shaped mostly by two ladies named Ella - folk singer Ella Jenkins and jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. You can hear echoes of both in the vocals for this song "Hide And Seek" - Jenkins's sensitivity to kids' interests paired with Fitzgerald's nimble, clear tone.


CHRISTOVAL: (Singing) I'll hide behind the door and stand forever still. You'll never hear me breathe. Oh, no, you never will. Never going to find me; never going to find in me.

SHEPHERD: Looking beyond the jazz sound strongly identified with the city, Christoval uses her bright, playful voice in other genres more commonly associated with the areas around the city, like the zydeco sound on "Leap Frog."


CHRISTOVAL: (Singing) Jump over your buddy, then you let your buddy go. Now leap. Oh, leap. Come on, girls, leap. I said leap, leap frog.

SHEPHERD: Christoval isn't the first kids artist to use the city of New Orleans as musical inspiration. But for a region with such a vital heritage, when it comes to kids music, it's still been underrepresented. With "Bon Voyage" Christoval fully connects with her own family's roots yet incorporates those decades-old traditions into 21st century kids music.


CHRISTOVAL: (Singing) He's the very best part of the circus show. Steady now, steady now, steady now, go. Tight rope walker, is he going to fall down? I don't know.

CORNISH: Stefan Shepherd reviewed "Bon Voyage" by the musician Jazzy Ash. Stefan writes about kids music at Zooglobble.com.


CORNISH: And you might want to join the conversation. Tell us about kids music that you loved or talk about something else you've heard on the program, right, Ari?


You know, sometimes you can find us even talking to each other on Twitter behind the scenes during the show. I'm on Twitter @arishapiro.

CORNISH: And I'm @nprAudie. And, you know, you can reach ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on Twitter @NPRATC. And of course, that's also how you can find us on Facebook.

SHAPIRO: Not to mention, we're on Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

CORNISH: (Laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.