Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits

by Wynton Marsalis

Hardcover, 2005





Candlewick (2005), Edition: Nov Gift, 76 pages


Profiles twenty-six of the jazz greats of all time, from Count Basie to Louis Armstrong, through a review of their work, their life stories, and their greatest hits by one of today's top jazz performers. 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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jscheper
This an an alphabet books that introduces jazz artists through the ages. Not only do the artists names start with the letter but there is an adjoining poem with use of that alphabet. For Louis Armstrong it says, "Absolute architect of the jazz age" and "Armstrong's amazing artistry astonishes audiences of all ages". The illustrations are done in muted block colors and shapes.
This would be a great book to introduce the alphabet, music, and poetry. This is somewhat silly in it's wording but can showcase an interesting use of language and the alphabet. This is a great collection of names and poetry. Made for the older set this is a great introduction to new vocabulary. The book ends with biographies of all the great artists.
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LibraryThing member pdye
I think that I found this book off the ABC books list yet it is not a book that fits my idea of a book to teach the alphabet. It is an interesting book to bring about info about some great Jazz artists and about a lot of people I never heard of. It is written in a way that does display each letter one at a time but this book is more about the jazz artists than the alphabet.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookworm12
Part children’s book, part poetry collection, this alphabetized introduction to jazz artists is a must for all parents who value artistic learning! The author and illustrator picked 26 major figures in jazz and then provided a poem and portrait of each one. The combination creates a beautiful effect, a book that flows just like jazz itself, through the history of the musical movement.

The poetic book combines dozens of different writing styles. At the end there are biographies of each jazz artist and a page recommending albums from each performer. There’s also a section describing the various poetic styles used throughout the text (ode, haiku, calligram, sonnet, free verse, etc.) This gives kids a chance to learn about jazz and poetry at the same time. What an excellent pairing!

“A songwriter, a sonneteer, a sorcerer of sorghum sonatas, so sweetly sung.”

“My bass drum can blacken a big man’s eyes and injure a hero’s pride.”
… (more)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

76 p.; 11.41 inches


0763621358 / 9780763621353


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