While some collections of children's music are meant to be childlike (i.e., giggles, child's choruses, chimes), others are simply meant to be fun.
While some collections of children's music are meant to be childlike (i.e., giggles, child's choruses, chimes), others are simply meant to be fun. Putumayo's Latin Playground, which compiles upbeat, mostly non-kiddie party tunes from a variety of countries and styles, aspires to be the former and succeeds. The secret of a good dance tune lies in its simplicity and danceability, and these attributes make these tracks appealing for kids and their parents. Latin Playground opens up familiarly, with the classic "Guantanamera," performed by Omara Portuondo and featuring, yes, a children's chorus, which should set everyone on the right track. It's followed by Los 50 de Joselito—one of Colombia's premier dance bands—performing the very cute "La Araña Picúa." There's also a mambo (Cubanismo's "Mardi Gras Mambo"), a Puerto Rican bomba ("Bomba Le Le"), and from Brazil, "Rodopiou," performed by José Gonzalez y Banda Criolla. If the kids manage to be immune to the contagiousness of the tracks, at least they'll get a lesson in the diversity that exists within Latin music—and in fine musicianship, here authentically performed. And that's always a good thing.—LC