10th Annual Children’s Music Album Winner
9th Annual World Beat Album Winner
9th Annual World Beat Album Vox Pop Winner
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Record Label: Motema Music
Home Base: New York, NY
Genre: “Music For Children” is a wide categorization that can encompass many many styles and genres of music. I am very active as a jazz and world-music artist (my previous CD Kelenia, for example, won an IMA last year in a totally different field – Best World Beat Album), so I incorporate a lot of my musical personality shaped by those influences into the music that I present to children through the CD, performances and the Timbalooloo Music Classes.
Category Entered: Children’s Music Album
Work Submitted: Wake Up, Clarinet!
Artists Featured: Jason Marsalis, Charenee Wade, Fabian Almazan, Garth Stevenson, Curtis Fowlkes
Influences: In the Timbalooloo Music Classes, the children learn to sing music from masters from many genres, including Duke Ellington, Tito Puente, Babatunde Olatunji, Jobim, Willie Nelson and Mozart.
What’s the meaning of your band name? Timbalooloo is not just the name of the band, but also the organization I founded to expand based on a new method of enriching children’s innate musicality and overall development through music classes, CDs such as Wake Up Clarinet!, concerts, books, video and television programming. The name Timbalooloo comes form a 3 year-old in one of the music classes, who went home and sat his mother and baby brother down for a 20 minute music class in which he pretended to be the teacher and demonstrated to his “pupils” an imaginary instrument he called the Timbalooloo. The story captures the essence of why I created this organization: to excite children about the wonders of music and musical instruments and encourage their creative freedom, personal ingenuity and healthy cognitive, emotional and physical development.
Describe your nominated work: Wake Up, Clarinet! is a fun CD with bonus video on it about Clara Net, who is sleeping and wakes up with the help of the children and the band. The clarinet “speaks” through the music and becomes a character throughout the CD. Through fun songs, it also teaches many fundamentals of music and is inspired by the Timbalooloo music classes which are offered throughout New York and are now expanding to L.A., Paris and other cities.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 10th IMA’s? Last year my album Kelenia won Best World Beat Album at the 9th IMAs and I was very impressed by both the exposure that we got from that recognition and also the whole mission statement of the IMA and the seriousness with which they carry it out and further creative music making across all genres.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? Well, I supposes the use of instruments like clarinet, trombone, saxophone, piano, etc, is unusual in music that is marketed for children, though I think there are many great clarinetists that children could enjoy if the music is presented in a creative way. One unusual effect we used is having the clarinet literally talk through its music, saying things like “All I Really Want To Do Is Dance” or copying what I was saying in the title track, “Wake Up, Clarinet!” This allows the children to have a personal connection with the instruments and hear instrumental music as talking and having emotion and character.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? The majority of this record happened in one day in the studio, just doing one or two takes of each tune. Jason Marsalis and I had been working together a bunch when he was in New York, but by the time we made the record, he was back in New Orleans, so we just found a day when he was in town and made it happen based on that schedule. In writing music, I always try to leave a lot of room for improvisation and spontaneous creativity of each musician, so a lot of happy surprises happened—mostly out of the musicality of these wonderful musicians, not accident.
Did fans help you fund this project? Nope
Who’s sitting in your audience? Kids of all ages- from toddlers up through teens are often at the Timbalooloo concerts, and the Timbalooloo classes are based on a developing curriculum that goes all the way from infancy up through school age. The Timbalooloo concerts often have parents with their kids or sometimes presentations for schools with teachers and kids in the audience.
What makes your fans unique? The parents who are drawn to Timbalooloo tend to be very active in their children’s upbringing and really want them to get exposure to a wide variety of cultures, forms of music and understand the importance of music in development. I’ve been impressed with their proactive ways of getting music into their children’s lives. I have had several parents in cities where I am going to play organize amongst themselves to form a group and invite me to teach a music class in their home while I’m in their city. I was just in LA at the Grammy’s for a project I’m on that was nominated. I ended up teaching 7 classes at different people’s homes and preschools that they set up when they knew I’d be in town! I love getting to know these wonderfully vibrant and creative parents!
Are there any songs you wish you wrote? The one I’m about to go write now.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? I’ve been checking out Esperanza lately, as I’m sure many people have. I was at the Grammys recently and, while the project I was on didn’t win, I was overjoyed that Esperanza won. 2 weeks later we were both playing at the Portland Jazz Festival and her set with her band blew me away.
What is your dream show lineup? Oh—there are so many great musicians I could think of, but I guess I’d say anyone who really really listens when they’re playing and is flexible enough to let the music go where it goes and feel where the other people are at.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? I like to have fun.
Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? Ha ha – always, but somehow it all ends up fine in the end…
Do you have any rituals before you go on stage? I like to take some time alone and reflect about everything that’s going to happen and center myself before we go on stage.
Should music be free? Well, I suppose everything should be free. When that happens then music should be free too. I think music is strange because it’s so hard to put a specific value on it. You can’t see it, smell it or touch it and everyone experiences it differently, so it’s impossible to measure and difficult to treat as a commercial commodity. But somehow in this economic structure it must be done in order to make a living and have time to create and share music with people.
How has digital affected your career? I think it has certainly slowed down CD sales, but it also presents a lot of new opportunities.
Are digital singles vs. full albums the future of music? I still believe in full albums. Music can be experienced in the small picture of minute by minute or the large picture of the development over the course of a long listening session. That is how the art of the symphony came about or any classical piece that is in several movements, with a development between the movements. I think it is important not to loose that and say that our attention span is just for 3-5 minutes or whatever the length of your tracks are! If an artist wants, they should create music for a whole listening session that develops from track to track.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is… constantly changing. It’s our responsibility to make it something positive.