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Sunday, July 13, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 82.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Jazz ABZ : An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits
By Wynton Marsalis


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Those of us who are old enough will appreciate that this beautifully illustrated book has been designed to resemble a vintage 78 record album. Open the cover and the title page is revealed as a replica 78 placed within a brown paper sleeve. Composer/author Wynton Marsalis and illustrator Paul Rogers' collaboration is a cleverly designed and creatively crafted homage to 26 jazz greats. Anyone who's ever been anyone, from Armstrong (for A) to Gillespie (Z, for DiZZy, let's not quibble) is proudly represented. Marsalis deftly matches poetic forms to suit each of his subjects. Rogers' eye-popping graphics bring to mind advertising posters of the 1920s and album covers of the 1930s and '40s. Following the 26 entries are biographical sketches of each performer (by jazz historian Phil Schaap) and extensive notes on each poetic form used. Though this stunning collection may look and feel like a picture book, it's not. Intended for children in grade six and up, it's a gift to jazz, poetry and fine-design lovers of all ages. In order to enjoy the total experience of the book, it might be wise to explain to younger readers exactly what a 78-rpm record - or for that matter, a record - is.

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