"Scat Like That -- A Musical Word Odyssey"


Singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have racked up a slew of Grammy nominations and awards for their ingenious children's recordings. But have any of their previous CDs been so consistently toe-tapping, giggle-provoking and singalong-inducing as "Scat Like That -- A Musical Word Odyssey"?

Like all the duo's kids' albums, this one weds music to a message, the lesson here being that language and literacy are fun. Indeed, Fink and Marxer assert that even Latin (or at least a kid-honored variety of it) and laughter are inseparable, a notion that inspires "Pig Latin Polka Dance" aka "Igpay Atinlay Olkapay Anceday."

Long before then, though, the duo offers kids a primer in jazz improvisation on the album's title track, which boasts a vibrant polyphonic arrangement (thanks to Mike Crotty) and an invitation to swing: "Syllables and consonants / With rhythm and design / Your voice becomes an instrument / See if you can follow mine," Fink instructs. Suffice to say that a kids' chorus doesn't need any prodding.

Besides swing and polka, the duo embraces folk, pop, Latin and cowboy music while indulging in fiendishly tricky tongue-twisters ("Flip Flapjacks"), celebrating the fun art of yodeling ("A-E-I-O and U"), uncorking an "Arr"-rated sea chantey ("A Pirate's Life") and heating up an appetizing lesson in Spanish ("I Love Pie"). What's more, lots of local musicians and the University Park Elementary School Ensemble help turn this lighthearted odyssey into a tuneful and spirited trek.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Saturday at the AFI Silver Theatre.

Cathy Fink, left, and Marcy Marxer get kids thinking -- and singing -- about language.