Three extraordinary Disney jazz CDs from Japan

I've just come back from Tokyo, where, as ever, I found time to visit Tokyo Disneysea, the most elaborate and beautiful constructed environment I've ever seen. While there, I found three remarkable Disney jazz albums that have knocked my socks off by combining classic Disney standards with novel, artful interpretations from a diverse and talented collection of artists.

First off, Bossa Disney Carioca, which has the worst cover and the best music of all three. These cool Brazilian covers reveal the pure, breathy dreamlike character in Disney's best music, especially Saigenji's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and Maucha Adnet's "Sonhar E Desejar" ("A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes"). Every track on this disc made me smile and sing along.

Next up, the altogether more challenging Modal Jazz Loves Disney, a more free-form approach to the canon. These are a little spottier, but when they score, they score big, as with the Helge Lien Trio's cover of the sinister, slinky overture from The Jungle Book, and LTC's sprinkly Baby Mine.

Disney's Jazz Album: Big Band & Swing is the least interesting of the three, but that's mostly because so much of it is drawn from common issues like Disney Songs the Satchmo Way and original soundtrack recordings of tracks like Peggy Lee's smoky He's a Tramp. But this disc does have some standout rarities that were new to me, like the cover of Heigh Ho from Mary Martin and Tutti Camarata and His Orchestra, as well as their cover of Bibbidi Bobbidy Boo.

Bossa Disney Carioca on Amazon Japan,

Modal Jazz Loves Disney on Amazon Japan,

Disney's Jazz Album: Big Band & Swing on Amazon

See also: Bossa Nova greats cover Disney songs