cover image Jazz A B Z

Jazz A B Z

Wynton Marsalis, , illus. by Paul Rogers. . Candlewick, $24.99 (76pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2135-3

This electric collaboration between Marsalis and Rogers is an insider's A to Z guide through the greats of jazz. The recognizable giants are all here—Miles Davis with a stunning portrait in hues that call to mind his legendary Kind of Blue , and John Coltrane with a list song that conjures his "cascading through closely clustered chord changes." But to get all the subtle asides or to understand why Joe "King" Oliver's tribute ("the Kaiser of cornet") seems almost more laudatory than Louis Armstrong's, newcomers will have to read the brief bios at the book's close (the King took Satchmo under his wing) by jazz historian Phil Schaap. The poster-like portraits pay homage to each larger-than-life personality. Davis gets a close-up but Sonny Rollins's painting in shades of black, yellow and white backs up so readers can see him swinging with his sax. Marsalis picks a poetic style suited to each subject: haiku for minimalist pianist Thelonious Monk, while a three-page foldout for percussionist Abdullah Ibn Buhaina (Art Blakey) rolls out like a drum score. Each poem brims with words that showcase the letter in the alphabet and the accomplishments of its subject (e.g., Armstrong with his "angular aural arabesques aplenty"). This is a must for anyone who has ever been drawn to a scat by Ella or a riff from Miles or who has whirled around the dance floor courtesy of Count Basie. The passion for jazz shared by this book's creators emanates from every spread—and it's contagious. All ages. (Nov.)