My latest CD Dixieland Jazz for Children with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band received a rave review in the July 2008 issue of School Library Journal:
“New Orleans natives Johnette Downing and Jimmy LaRocca have teamed up to acquaint youngsters with Dixieland Jazz in this collection of 18 original tunes and one classic piece. The opening number, “Dixieland Jazz,” presents the sounds of each instrument in the combo. “That Dixie Beat” explains that type of jazz music. The lyrics of many songs make them useful for story times. “Do the Charleston,” “Alligator Snap,” and “Dance and Sing” are fun for dance/movement activities. “Busy Beeline” is a peppy tune about bees, and “Swaying with the Trees” is a laid-back song that could be used for dancing with scarves. “Someday Your Dreams,” a bluesy Big Band-sounding ballad, closes the recording.
Jimmy LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a New Orleans staple, is highlighted throughout the CD. LaRocca sings lead on a few numbers with a voice that channels Louis Armstrong in its timbre and tone. Downing sings lead on most songs, and her pleasant voice and predictable style is more akin to Doris Day than a soulful Ella Fitzgerald. Curiously, she chooses to pronounce the city as “New Orleenz” in several tunes, rather than the local pronunciation “New Or-luns” (which she does use once in “New Orleans Strut). Downing and LaRocca have assembled a toe-tapping collection of Dixieland jazz to introduce youngsters to this niche music.”
–Stephanie Bange, Wilmington-Stroop Branch, Dayton Metro Library, OH