cover image Jazz on a Saturday Night

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . Scholastic/Blue Sky, $16.99 ( , $16.99 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-590-47893-9

Two-time winners of the Caldecott Medal, the Dillons (The People Could Fly ) here take readers to what might be termed the king of all jam sessions. The venue: an imaginary Saturday night concert featuring seven of the genre's greats, from Thelonius Monk to John Coltrane. Rhythmic text acts as an introduction to the legendary musicians (“Repeat on the beat/ when Max Roach keeps the heat/ on his drums, rhythm thrums,/ makes you jump in your seat”). Making use of a period setting (women in the African-American audience sport '40s and '50s hats, men wear suits and ties), the authors also touch on the meaning of jazz for listeners who often faced discrimination in larger society (“Fills my soul—makes me whole—/ jazz is mine! I belong”). The sophisticated illustrations of the star-filled stage recall Harlem Renaissance paintings. At the same time, geometric motifs that swirl from instruments to represent the music and the two-tone block shading in the close-up portraits suggest a pop/abstract art feel. Smoky hues dominate, with a different background color for each double spread and musician. Brief biographies of the seven featured artists serve as endnotes, while a bonus CD briefly explores jazz instruments and features an original song that shares the book's title. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)