Becky's Reviews > Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits

Jazz ABZ by Wynton Marsalis
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Feb 09, 2009

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This is a poetry ABC book dedicated to all things jazz. Okay, maybe not all things jazz. But it's a start. 26 jazz musicians. 26 poetry forms. Great potential, right? The book starts off--as well it should--with Louis Armstrong--and ends with Dizzy Gillespie. In between we've got artists like Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. The book is illustrated by Paul Rogers. The poetic forms covered--how many have you heard of???--are: accumulative, blues, list, word play, meter play, preached, limerick, substitution, performance, ode, insult, lyric, free verse, nursery rhyme, abstract, pantoum, acrostic, rondeau, beat poem, haiku, calligram, sonnet, prose, ballad, tanka, and skeltonic verse.

I can see Jazz ABZ serving several purposes: for jazz enthusiasts, for music appreciation, for poetry appreciation. The last two especially might be something for teachers to consider. A great crossover option as well...seeing how students could connect the music of these artists with the history and culture of the jazz age...and perhaps discuss how these poems succeed (or fail for that matter) to do the artists justice. Would you be able to write a poem on a favorite musician? Would you be able to do it in a structured way? I know I couldn't do it. But I'm glad that Marsalis did!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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