How Great Can This Day Be is Portland, Oregon resident Lori Henriques' fourth album of music for families, following The World is a Curious Place to Live (2013), Outside My Door: Songs for Children of All Ages (2011), and Lullaby Piano: Peaceful Classical Pieces (2008). Right off the bat the cover art gives listeners a clue as to Henriques' musical tack, with its mod, late '50s-early'60s layout. She lists her influences for this album specifically as Mose Allison ("Parchman Farm"), Laura Nyro ("Wedding Bell Blues"), Jacques Brel ("Ne Me Quitte Pas"), Bob Dorough ("Three Is a Magic Number"), Cole Porter ("Night and Day"), and Nina Simone ("Feeling Good"); in fact, one of the appealing things about How Great Can This Day Be is how Henriques sticks to one style, jazz, rather than ping pong amongst a variety of musical techniques.
The album kicks off with the title tune, a lively song that utilizes a repetitive modal riff reminiscent of "So What" from Miles Davis' 1959 classic Kind of Blue. The next song finds Henriques hanging out "In a Park" in Seattle where she discovers a vast cornucopia of veggies in the community garden. She then finds her "Groove" as the band lead us through a flute-filled samba, encouraging us to move in a wide variety of ways. Brother Joel Henriques' musical saw haunts the waltzing "Beau Paris" as Henriques and her young son Leo sing us a brief French language lesson; while "Free Ride Everyday," Henriques' homage to Mr. Rogers and his show, provides another example of her use of modal chord movement.
The brief "I Say Woo" features a smokin' Hammond B3 organ solo by Randy Porter (look out, Sugar Free Allstars' Chris Wiser!), throws in some French verses, and utilizes that choppy hook from James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" in creating a great live concert sing along. "Monkey Monkey Monkey" sneaks its way through the jungle via trombone and clarinet, marking humans' similarities to our fellow primates. Along with husband Matt Keeslar, Henriques assures that "I Am Your Friend," performing an absolutely cheerful song that'll remind you of a Broadway-based Lunch Money song; hey, now that Molly Ledford and gang are producing theater shows, a collaboration may not be a bad idea! The smoky "Dream Jane Dream" features Tim Jensen's Paul Desmond-like saxophone tone in Henriques' tribute to scientist Jane Goodall. The album comes to a close by describing "Another Good Year," a warmly celebratory boogie woogie tune that makes for a great Holiday Season/New Year's Eve song. Listen for Ben Medler's trumpet solo and the way the song's intro echoes The Everly Brothers' 1961 hit "Walk Right Back."
Lori Henriques has carved a neat little niche for herself in the world of children's music, as jazzy bands and musicians are few and far between in Kindie Rock. Her sincere dedication to jazz and the prominence of her piano skills on How Great Can This Day Be will not only appeal to those who appreciate that style but also to young families who want to have a live, jazz-filled musical experience with their children. Make sure to check the official Lori Henriques website for tour dates and more info about her music.
Released November 10, 2014; Human Puppy Records
- "How Great Can This Day Be"
- "In a Park"
- "Beau Paris"
- "Free Ride Everyday"
- "I Say Woo"
- "Monkey Monkey Monkey"
- "I Am Your Friend"
- "Dream Jane Dream"
- "Another Good Year"