A fiesta of upbeat Latin American music for children and families. Putumayo invites children of all ages on a fun and educational musical journey through Latin America with Latin Playground, a collection of upbeat songs by well- known artists from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and more. Putumayo's highly successful and critically acclaimed series of world music for kids has introduced children to world music from more than 20 countries and Latin Playground continues in the same tradition.
Before you stomp around a Putumayo playground, park your preconceived notions at the picnic bench. The label may not set the world-music crowd on fire with its regular releases, but this series, aimed at kids but translating up, sizzles. Latin Playground's party gets started with a wind-you-up traditional Cuban number (Omara Portuondo's "Guantanamera") and from there traverses North, South, and Central America, making stops in Mexico City, Colombia, the American Tejano region, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. There are sample wacko lyrics ("The day will come when I will leave you / Because you smell like the armadillo," from Lila Downs's "Hanal Weech"), unexpected instrumentation (accordions punch up the polka flavoring of Flaco Jiminez's conjunto, "De Bolon Pin Pon"), and not a whiff of what's expected from the latest slice off a music education program--even the informative, engaging liner notes are gentle gatekeepers to a land of rhythms everybody wants to get into and get down with. Forget the kids--see if you can make it through Cubanismo's "Mardi Gras Mambo," Nazare Pereira's "Rodopiou," and Carmen Gonzalez's "Chocolate" without waving a set of air maracas or busting into a booty-shaking session to make Ricky Martin blush. --Tammy La Gorce
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