When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? Read more...
When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn't own a good camera, didn't know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians' mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer's day. Francis Vallejo's vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author's note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane's famous photograph.
- ISBN-13: 9780763669546
- ISBN-10: 0763669547
- Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
- Publish Date: March 2016
- Page Count: 66
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
- Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-04
- Reviewer: Staff
On Aug. 12, 1958, 57 jazz musicians—some legends like Thelonius Monk and Count Basie, some just starting out—gathered on a Harlem stoop for a photograph taken by Art Kane for Esquire magazine. In 21 poems, Orgill (Skit-Skat, Raggedy Cat) drifts between biographical sketches of the musicians, musings on the difficulty of wrangling them into a shot (“musicians/ don’t hear/ words of instruction/ only music”), poems about the neighborhood children present, and more. An alphabetical acrostic highlights what they wore (“Regimental/ Striped/ Ties/ Umbrella, unopened”), while “There’s a Hole in the Picture” contemplates the absence of Duke Ellington (Orgill even investigated where he actually was that day). When readers eventually open a foldout page to see the photograph, the moment is magic—alive with the presence and skill of the musicians, as well as the promise and potential of the children around them. Beyond being a glorious tribute to these jazz greats, the book is also a phenomenal debut for Vallejo, whose dynamic acrylic and pastel images bring readers into the heart of the action of a day like no other. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Mar.)