I have a soft spot for children’s music, especially if they’re traditional folk songs of any culture. But the children’s music that really tugs at my heart are the timeless melodies I grew up with as a kid in Japan.
So when I listened to Elena Moon Park and Friends’ beautiful and fun album, “Rabbit Days and Dumplings,” I was most enchanted by “Akatombo” (“Red Dragonfly”) which opens with fingerpicked guitar and is joined by a flute whistling the gorgeous, lazily floating melody I remember from my childhood. Park and executive producer/guitarist Dan Zanes sing both in English and phonetic Japanese, and the music is rounded out with flutes, the buzuk, an Arabic stringed instrument, and koto, the Japanese harp that looks like a surfboard with strings.
The album is chock-full of such world music mashups of culture while the songs are treated with respect for their cultural origins. On some of the songs, Park brings in guest singers to handle the Japanese, Chinese and one Tibetan song.