Bill Crofut's "Dance on a Moonbeam"
    by John Cech

That's the late Bill Crofut, performing part of his wonderful alphabet song, "Alligator Hedgehog," from this new CD that he finished just before he died, called "Dance on a Moonbeam." It's a stunning, rich collection of poetry and folksongs, operatic arias and nonsense verse, all woven together as intricately and neatly as a Nantucket basket's wicker splines.

There are elegant readings from Shakespeare by Meryl Streep, and vibrant settings of Randall Jarrell's and e e cummings' poems sung by Dawn Upshaw; Frederica von Stade contributes a moving version of the Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts"; and the Chourus Angelicus transports you with the lullabye, "Now I lay Me Down to Sleep," from Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.

But it is Bill Crofut's presence that fills the CD throughout, his steady baritone harmonzing with Julianne Baird in a lovely version of the traditional Welsh song, "All Through the Night," and his delicate pick work turning the banjo into an instrument of grace in the duet of a Bach Bourré that he does with lutist Carver Blanchard. This is poetry as most of us wish it had been presented to us as children -- full of magic and music and mystery, offered in a faraway diction and calling us to sweet delight. And this is what we'd dream an evening, a day, a season, a year, a lifetime to be: peaceful and joyful and profoundly loving. Here's Meryl Streep with Shakespeare and Bill Crofut with the title song:

Copyright © 2001 by RJohn Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:23:29 EDT

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for the Study of Children's Literature and Media and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."