From deep in the heart of Texas comes the brilliant Uncle Jumbo. Houston music-maker James Pendleton is a member of the “grown folks’ music,” genre-mashing band Rosewood Thievz. After the birth of his first child, he turned his considerable talents to children’s music and the world was a better place for it. Under the guise of Uncle Jumbo, he brings infectious beats, Hip Hop, Rap, Trip Hop and Trance sensibilities to a sensational set of ten songs, highlighting his dexterous wordplay and his expressive vocals. The album opens with the joyful song “Roly Poly,” and the words: “This is a story from a new point of view,” and is told from a worm’s vantage point, inspired by when his daughter was first learning to crawl. “Muddy Knees” marries dub reggae to marimba-like melodies for this “underground” tale, while he speeds up the beats to a near zydeco pace in “Where You Going Caterpillar” for this danceable tune of transformation. Shades of Bobby McFerrin can be decerned on “Bloom” a song about appreciating one’s own uniqueness, while the poetic, nature appreciating “Garden Groove” has echoes of the scintillating Ska of UB40, and “Family Tree” is a melodic, atmospheric tribute to his grandmother and the joys of family traditions. Pendleton is responsible for not only the vocals and songwriting but also the production, playing all the instruments, and the expert programming of the beats. “Get Loose” lovingly encourages children to allow themselves a little time to “sprout,” while “Rainbow” exposes the silver lining in any potential disappointment. “Birdhouse” gets trippy with beats for this invitational ornithological party and the album closes with the lazy, pastoral strains of “Gumdrop and Junebug.” Uncle Jumbo is a fresh and most enjoyable new artist to bless the world of family music.
Lahri Bond ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.