Reviews for Jazz on a Saturday Night

Booklist Reviews 2007 September #2
*Starred Review* It is a melancholy reality that jazz is no longer considered popular music and that the great names of jazz history are no longer on the lips of young people. The Dillons would like to take a small step to change that with this engaging picture book, which harkens back to a time when hearing live jazz on a Saturday night brought communities together to ease away the strains of the work week with wailing saxophones and syncopated rhythms. The mythical Saturday night posited here--and brought to life through brief, "toe-tappin'" poems and paintings that seem to swing off the pages--brings together an all-time great band featuring Charlie Parker and John Coltrane on saxophones, Miles Davis on trumpet, Thelonious Monk on piano, Max Roach on drums, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Ella Fitzgerald doing the vocals. Each artist is featured in his or her own two-page spread; taken together, the art blends blues, greens, purples, and golds into a mix that communicates both the music's heat and its mellow side. Equally vibrant are the paintings of the audience, wrapped up in the sound and sharing the energy. For introducing young listeners to jazz, pair this with Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers' Jazz (2006), which does for New Orleans-style jazz what the Dillons do for the more modern bebop sound. Biographical notes on the musicians are appended. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #5
The Dillons bring their love of jazz to the page, putting together a fictional gathering of jazz greats. The talented imaginary octet of Miles Davis, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Stanley Clarke, Ella Fitzgerald, and an unnamed guest guitarist tune up and take their places for a toe-tapping performance. The enthusiastic African American audience (spiffed up in coats and ties, fancy hats, and best dresses) revels in the joy that is jazz. Music, in the visual form of patterns resembling African textile art, pours out of the soloing instrumentalists and singer. In the end, the audience -- from the little girl in her puffy dress to older folks carrying their hats -- exits dancing, hands raised, as if they have been blessed. Though the authors' note provides a brief biography of each musician, this is not an academic introduction to the musical form but a celebration of jazz, people who make music, and the audience who appreciates it. A CD features the rhyming text set to music, but the singer takes small liberties with the words, making it difficult for young readers to read or sing along. A quick dip into the deep pool of jazz. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 September #1
The Dillons deliver their take on one of children's publishing trends du jour. Imagining a "dream band" made of actual jazz greats--some of whom actually played together--the authors paint stylized, affectionate portraits of eight artists--including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Ella Fitzgerald--playing in a room full of seated, enthralled fans, young and old. Below each double spread, couplets run across a uniform border of white space. The unremitting end rhymes sometimes subvert scansion, and the anonymous narrator's purported emotional involvement in the evening seems stilted. The choice of Stanley Clarke as the bass player seems odd, since he's more than a generation this side of the other musicians; and the "guest with guitar" is neither named nor featured in the backmatter's brief biographies. While the handsome paintings' fidelity to the musicians' likenesses is mainly irreproachable, the depictions of Ella vary considerably from spread to spread, never really capturing her essence. A CD (on which the authors introduce the instruments and a band and singer do the book's lyrics as a jazz tune) is included. (introduction, suggested recordings) (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #1

Two-time winners of the Caldecott Medal, the Dillons (The People Could Fly ) here take readers to what might be termed the king of all jam sessions. The venue: an imaginary Saturday night concert featuring seven of the genre's greats, from Thelonius Monk to John Coltrane. Rhythmic text acts as an introduction to the legendary musicians ("Repeat on the beat/ when Max Roach keeps the heat/ on his drums, rhythm thrums,/ makes you jump in your seat"). Making use of a period setting (women in the African-American audience sport '40s and '50s hats, men wear suits and ties), the authors also touch on the meaning of jazz for listeners who often faced discrimination in larger society ("Fills my soul--makes me whole--/ jazz is mine! I belong"). The sophisticated illustrations of the star-filled stage recall Harlem Renaissance paintings. At the same time, geometric motifs that swirl from instruments to represent the music and the two-tone block shading in the close-up portraits suggest a pop/abstract art feel. Smoky hues dominate, with a different background color for each double spread and musician. Brief biographies of the seven featured artists serve as endnotes, while a bonus CD briefly explores jazz instruments and features an original song that shares the book's title. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

[Page 187]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 September

K-Gr 4-- "Ladies and gents, what a jam this will be--/an evening of jazz immortality!" And how! John Coltrane and Charlie Parker on sax, Thelonious Monk on piano, vocals by Ella Fitzgerald, trumpet by Miles Davis, drums by Max Roach, Stanley Clarke on bass! The audience is captivated and carried along on "a river of melody sketched in dim light" in this rhythmic tribute to traditional jazz. The spreads, graphic-styled paintings rendered in deep matte tones with a suggestion of collage, switch between stage and audience, with swirling background patterns portraying the flow of music. The grow-ing excitement of this jazz extravaganza is perfectly complemented by the joyful rhyming text: "Repeat on the beat/when Max Roach keeps the heat/on his drums, rhythm thrums,/makes you jump in your seat." The first track on the accompa-nying CD is an introduction to jazz. Each instrument in the book is highlighted individually, followed by the second track, a recording of the original song "Jazz on a Saturday Night." The Dillons' lyrics comprise part of the book's text, and the number features each of the instruments riffing solo and then the ensemble jamming together. The book opens with a one-page overview of jazz and concludes with biographical snapshots of the featured musicians. A splendid read-aloud/listen-along multisensory title, Jazz is an interdisciplinary workhorse, perfect for music, art, movement, poetry, so-cial studies, and language-arts classes. Pair it with the Dillons' Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles, Think of That (Live Oak Media, 2005) for a rhythmic explosion of sight, sound, and word.--Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

[Page 162]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.