A gentle, jazzy way to say 'sweet dreams'

An effort to create a bond between fathers and infants recognizes involved dads nationwide

The word "lullaby" usually conjures up images of mothers and babies. But jazz musician Dave Koz is hoping to change that. He wants people also to think of the mysterious, beautiful bond between fathers and their infants.

That aspect of fatherhood has been celebrated by 12 jazz musicians - all dads or proud uncles - in an award- winning album, "Golden Slumbers: A Father's Lullaby."

Mr. Koz, an acclaimed musician, producer, and radio personality under whose direction the CD came together, says the "coolest aspect of this project was that it all happened so organically." The idea was sparked by his sister-in-law, Unique Koz, who was having trouble getting her infant daughter, Jordan, to sleep. She noticed that most lullaby recordings stimulated rather than calmed the baby.

So Koz and his brother, Jeff, also a jazz musician, experimented with instrumental versions of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and the Beatles' classic "Blackbird."

"They worked," he says, "and the idea sprang forth - why not do a full album?" Koz recognized that a lot of his musician friends were becoming new dads - and the theme took shape. "It was an easy sell, because these artists are such great fathers." He describes the CD as "very relaxing, it's familiar, it's put together in a lovely way, and as such, I think it can really inspire moms and dads to really engage with their kids in that special time before bed."

Corresponding via e-mail, he writes that "Golden Slumbers" is a "bonding CD - there's something in there, an intangible aspect that ... really helps set the mood for those special moments to happen between parents and their kids."

Koz and his dad shared many such moments, and he is hoping the fathers who hear the CD will have similar experiences. He also launched a website, www.goldenslumbers.com, with helpful information and activities for fathers. "It's so amazingly important for the children and our future generations," he says. "With a father's love and support, you feel like you can do and achieve just about anything."

Yet it is estimated that 1 out of 3 youngsters in the US grows up in a home without a father. To help promote stronger families, Koz and his record label, Rendezvous Entertainment, have joined forces with Warner Brothers and the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), located in Gaithersburg, Md. They launched a "Golden Dads" campaign to acknowledge the acts of fathers who are connecting with their kids.

As part of the program, representatives of the three campaign partners scoured five major cities last weekend in search of these "golden dads." Each received a copy of the "Golden Slumbers" CD, NFI's "10 Ways to be a Better Dad" brochure, and a button declaring "I'm a Golden Dad."

"The strategy here is to light a candle," says Roland Warren, NFI president. "When I was a kid my mother used to say you can either curse the darkness or light a candle." The group hopes to shine a light on dads who are actively involved with their children.

It is exactly this connection that gives the lullaby CD its "special quality," says Koz. The artists "wanted to do this for their kids, not for any other reason.... It wasn't about 'chops' or showing what you can do on your instrument. Each performer was sending this little musical love letter to [his] child, and as a result, many families will hopefully be able to get something of real value from the CD."

For many parents out there, the greatest value will be getting baby to settle down and actually go to sleep. But be warned, this CD is likely to have the same effect on adults.

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