Baltimore dad and musician Seth Kibel is a self-proclaimed ham. According to Seth, music gives him more joy than anything else — and he wants others (especially kids!) to experience that as well. His latest project, Jazz for People Who Are Shorter Than Me,  speaks directly to that mission.

It’s a fabulous album. I love that he rejects the tinny-sometimes-mechanical-sounds-like-an-electronic-windchime sound that kids’ music oftentimes fall into and provides amazing sound with pint-sized friendly lyrics.  While rooted in jazz, you’ll hear nods to blues, boogie-woogie, rock and even klezmer. All seamlessly blended into eleven songs your kids will want to keep on repeat.

We’re thrilled that Seth will be joining us for our first Jelly + Jam session this weekend (his son will be jamming with us, too!)! So we caught up with him to learn more about his kids’ album, what to expect at the jam session and where he takes the fam around town.

Tell us a little bit about Jazz for People Who Are Shorter Than Me. Personally, I love that you’ve stuck with a traditional jazz vibe — while interjecting blues, boogie-woogie, rock — instead of kowtowing to the idea that little people need pared down music. The album may include traditional and beloved children’s songs — but it has BIG sound! What inspired the project?

You know, I’ve always found that children are some of the best audience members. They respond to any and all kinds of music with enthusiasm and with no preconceived notions of what’s “in” or “cool.” If it’s got energy, enthusiasm, and sincerity, they’ll dig it.

So I feel like even when I’ve been playing “jazz for adults,” part of me is always catering to the smaller members of my audience. Doing an entire album with them in mind seemed like a natural progression.

Obviously, you have a keen sense of humor. You can tell by the title of your CD! What role does humor play in your music?

Well, I AM a ham. To a fault. I like to make people smile and be happy, by any means necessary. Sometimes that’s through music. Sometimes it’s through humor. But oftentimes it’s both. And young children often seem to think I’m hysterical. But my humor is kind of hit or miss with adults.

Jazz for People Who Are Shorter Than Me - (cool) progeny

You’ve made quite a reputation for yourself as a premier woodwind specialist. What brought you to music — and helped you make it into a career?

Making music gives me more joy than anything else. I can’t imagine doing anything else. The worst day playing music beats the best day behind a desk. For me, anyway.

And, of course, one of the truisms of music history is that, if you’re a professional musician, and you like to eat, it behooves you to do as many different things as possible. So indeed, I have a pretty diverse musical career. I play a plethora of different instruments, with an emphasis on the woodwinds (clarinet, saxophone, flute), and I work in a variety of musical genres, ranging from classical to jazz, blues to rock, Jewish klezmer, German oom-pah, and more.

What advice do you have for parents who want to encourage and foster their child’s love and appreciation for music?

Like just about anything else in life, expose them to as much as possible. Feed their giant computers on their shoulders and, as they grow older, they can use all that information to figure out their own musical likes and dislikes. One of the things I love about music is that allows us to be truly unique individuals in a day and age when it’s increasingly hard to do so. No two musicians are exactly alike, and no two listeners respond exactly the same way to what they hear.

As far as music education, I’m often asked by parents what instrument their child is best suited for. There’s really only one factor to be considered when a child decides what instrument they want to learn — do they like the sound? Any course of instrumental study is going to require a considerable amount of practice. Your child is going to be listening to that instrument (played by themselves) for a significant chunk of their childhood. It better be a sound they like! All other factors are secondary.

What’s playing on your iPod right now? {I’m guessing you have an iPod?}

Other than NPR? Well, like most musicians, a little bit of everything! Bach, Duke Ellington, Elvis Costello, Sam Cooke, The Replacements, Benny Goodman, and Hank Williams all peacefully coexist in the digital universe.

What project are you working on next?

Well, I’ve always got a few releases in the pipeline. I’ve got an album of all original compositions that completely recorded. I’ll probably release that towards the end of the year. One of my “world music” project, The Music Pilgrim Trio (musicpilgrimtrio.com) has recorded a new album that will be out by early next year, as well. And of course, I’m gigging all over the place. Go to www.sethkibel.com for all the latest.

We’re so excited to have you as part of our first Jelly + Jam Session on Saturday! What are you most looking forward to about the session?

I’d have to say it’d be working with the pianist on the gig. His name is William Kibel, he’s nine years old, and he happens to look suspiciously like me. Child labor is a beautiful thing.

Free day in Baltimore. How do you spend it?

Oh, man. There’s so much we love in B’more. Irvine Nature Center, Maryland Science Center, Maryland Zoo, The Walters Art Gallery — these are all in our regular rotation.