JAZZ by Morgan Monceaux


My Music, My People
Age Range: 11 & up
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 A visual artist pays tribute to 41 great African-American jazz virtuosos of the past with a series of stylized portraits matched to brief appreciative essays. Like the story quilts of Faith Ringgold, Monceaux's paintings (each with a bit of collage--white gloves for Duke Ellington, silk gardenias for Billie Holliday- -incorporated) combine handwritten text with figures rendered in primitivist style; the writing (biographical notes) flows around each likeness in a way that suggests ripples of movement or sound. Monceaux arranges his subjects chronologically, beginning with the proto-jazz master Buddy Bolden and finishing with Pearl Bailey, Lena Horne--and his mother, Johnetta, a vocalist ``linked with the leading blues women of the South.'' The commentary printed on facing pages is general but well informed, occasionally provocative (Jelly Roll Morton ``was brought up to look down on those with darker skins and continued to do so all his life''), always focused on the entertainers' influences and unique styles; the author also injects personal notes, recalling his first exposure to someone's music, or its place in the life of a family member. A fresh, idiosyncratic view of this distinctly American music's history and development. Send readers who want to know more to the music itself, or if they must have a book, Studs Terkel's Giants of Jazz (1975). (Collective biography. 11+)

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-85618-8
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1994