by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
If you’re in need of some seriously upbeat grooves, I highly recommend Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats’ What Kind of World?. Lucy’s 5-track EP, her fifth studio album for families, really boosted my spirits this week when I was feeling down. Plus, the record not only features her adorable prodigy cellist son Darius Kalantari (who is 8!) but also Jazzy Ash and Joelle Lurie (of JoJo & The Pinecones).
Each song is a gem, from the festive “Friendship Party” to “Juntos Somos Fuertes,” a bilingual song honoring Lucy’s own Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage that touches on working together and building great things. It is sung with her son and favorite frequent collaborator Darius Kalantari and features horn players Syreeta Thompson on trumpet and Ron Wilkins on trombone.
We recently caught up with the singer, songwriter, and Grammy-winning producer to learn more about the record.
Rockmommy: ‘Friendship Party’ is such an upbeat fall jam — and September was kind of a mixed bag. Does music help you stay positive and hopeful?
Lucy Kalantari: Absolutely! Sometimes, life gets in the way of making music and I will totally feel the repercussions of that within a couple of days. Everything feels just a little heavier, emotionally. It goes back to normal once I get musicking again. It’s like the ”apple a day” saying, except with music!
Rockmommy: The song features Jazzy Ash and Joelle Lurie (of JoJo & The Pinecones) — have you been friends for a long time? How did this collaboration come about?
Lucy Kalantari: We knew of each other through the kindie music scene. Back in 2016, we all gathered for a children’s music industry event, where artists perform together doing whatever they want to show off. Jazzy Ash was paired to perform with Joelle and I was paired with Lard Dog. It was bundles of fun! After that performance, a few people said, “now wouldn’t it be neat if the THREE of you did something together? Maybe an album?” Seeds were planted that night and conversations sprinkled throughout the years. This year, the time felt ripe. Before I wrote the song, I checked in with everyone hoping that the pandemic didn’t change everyone’s enthusiasm over the idea. When I got the resounding “YES!!” the rest became history!
Rockmommy: How’s life with the best cellist on Earth (your son Darius)? Can you tell us what’s going on in his performance world?
Lucy Kalantari: Haha Darius is a bundle of energy and I’m just trying to keep up with his shine! At 8 years old, he started working on Suzuki Cello Book 7 and he’s absolutely ecstatic. The pieces are more expressive and elaborate, so it’s been really exciting to watch him dive in. He’s also getting ready for a recital in November performing the exciting “Tarantella” by W.H. Squire. On our new EP, “What Kind of World?” not only does he play cello, but he also sings with me in Spanish for a song about community called “Juntos somos fuertes.” He also felt inspired to sing a 3rd part harmony for the track, “Round and Round”! It’s been so great to perform live together in front of an audience again! Slowly but surely, we will be doing it with more frequency, even more than pre-pandemic times. It’s going to be magnificent!
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.