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ChildrensPictureBook.info Review

Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits
By Wynton Marsalis
Illustrator Paul Rogers
Publisher Candlewick Press

You might think that Jazz ABZ was meant for young children since it is a picture book, but the content of this hardcover is decidedly more advanced. From A to Z, Wynton Marsalis infuses his knowledge of and intuitive feel for jazz style into each poem. He uses a different poetic form for each letter of the alphabet, some work rather well and others don't. I particularly like his haiku for Thelonius Monk.

Tonight....
there's Thelonius
ticklin'

The illustrations by Paul Rogers are full of references to the artist that jazz buffs may recognize on sight, but others will have to do a little work to find out what they mean. For example the Dizzy Gilespie illustration has a street sign with "A Klook" and "A Mop" written on it. The sign is referring to Kenny Clarke, a drummer who worked with Gilespie and introduced the klook and klook-mop off beat accents. Each of these poster-like illustrations could be used as a jazz treasure hunt to discover more about the jazz legend represented.

The book is best appreciated by those who already have at least a smattering of knowledge about jazz and the jazz greats presented. There are brief biographies of each artist that fill in more detail for those that need it. An accompanying audio CD would have made this book a real treat. There's also a section with notes on all the poetic forms that are used in the book, a different form for each letter of the alphabet. I'd recommend this book to high school ages students or younger students who are fascinated by jazz.


Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits

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