Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits


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Author Wynton Marsalis
Publisher Candlewick
Illustator Paul Rogers
Appropriate Age Range 9+ years
A is for "almighty" Louis Armstrong, whose amazing artistry unfolds in an accumulative poem shaped like the letter he stands for. As for sax master Sonny Rollins, whose "robust style radiates roundness," could there be a better tribute than a poetic rondeau? In an extraordinary feat, Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz composer Wynton Marsalis harmonizes his love and knowledge of jazz’s most celebrated artists with an astounding diversity of poetic forms — from simple blues (Count Basie) to a complex pantoum (Charlie Parker), from a tender sonnet (Sarah Vaughan) to a performance poem snapping the rhythms of Art Blakey to life.

Matching Wynton Marsalis’s musical cadences note for note is the bold, poster-style art of Paul Rogers, highlighted in two phenomenal foldout spreads. The art’s vibrant nostalgic feel is echoed in an exquisite design, with its size simulating an old 78 LP and its endpapers die-cut to mimic a vintage record sleeve. Complete with a discography and brief biographies of the featured musicians as well as notes on the various poetic forms, this is truly an incomparable gift book — for older children learning about jazz, longtime jazz aficionados, lovers of poetry, and readers of all ages who appreciate the finest in book design.