Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Sept. 29, 2006
African Folk Tales & Music for Children, Vol. 1 (Batakoto)
Can kids still be moved by a simple, well-told story? Based on the work of Debo Adejobi, an Austinite from Nigeria who collects folk tales in West Africa, the answer is appropriately elementary: Yes. "Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky" is dreamy creation myth, whereas "For Horned Animals Only" (my son's personal favorite) recounts the adventures of a cunning hare who tricks larger and faster animals. With a hangover, no less. Throughout, Adejobi pulls extra meaning from words, a saxophonist bending notes, his vox deep and sweet like honey-seasoned hardwood. Think Georges Collinet, Afropop Worldwide host, crossed with singer/actor Paul Robeson. Two musical tracks help diversify the hourlong CD, as do uncredited sound effects and background music, including what sounds like Ali Farke Toure under "Adenike." Likewise, "The Caterpillar and Other Wild Animals" makes the liner notes but not the actual recording. Only half of the closing story, "Alujon-jon-ki-jon," is relayed here (paced for Volume 2), but even then, parents will want to prescreen the law of the jungle, kill-or-be-killed story. All told, African Folk Tales & Music, Volume 1 is a timeless collection of oral wisdom, a fitting salve for today's too-busy world.