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HEAVEN’S ALL-STAR JAZZ BAND by Don Carter Kirkus Star


by Don Carter & illustrated by Don Carter

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-81571-6
Publisher: Knopf

Grandpa Jack is a bit shy when he first arrives in Heaven, which, appropriately for a jazz fan like himself, takes the form of a Cotton Club peopled with jazz legends whose music Grandpa loved so much in life. As Grandpa makes his way inside, he begins to tap his feet and forget his shyness; when Count Basie strikes up the band, Grandpa joins in on the spoons, finally earning his wings among the jazz greats. Textured collage illustrations incorporating visible brush strokes have a sculptured look; notable jazz figures Mingus, Miles, Ellington, Monk, Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Art Blakey, and John Coltrane, all with angels’ wings, are portrayed playing and singing on cloud stages against a backdrop of a deep blue, starry sky. The snappy text gives a brief sense of each musician’s specialty and in some cases even evokes the musicians’ sound: “It don’t mean a thing, If it ain’t got that swing” are Duke’s own lyrics, verbatim, and the following line—“That’s what Duke says. And that’s what Duke plays”—recalls rhythms in his composition “Duke’s Place.” The mention of musical terms essential to the understanding of jazz, like improvisation and syncopation, rounds out this outstandingly complete introduction to the jazz canon that will give young readers a genuine feel for the music and spirit of jazz. Short biographies of each of the musicians are included at the end. (Picture book. 5-8)