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Jazz A-B-Z — An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits

Honoring the importance of educating our next generation of jazz enthusiasts, this post on the colorful book Jazz A-B-Z — originally published on Jerry Jazz Musician in 2005 — is a reminder of this creative resource.

 

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Jazz A – B – Z:  

An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits

by

Wynton Marsalis

 

 

 

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Illustrated in full color by Paul Rogers

With biographical sketches by Phil Schaap

 

 

 

 

 

 

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     In Jazz A – B – Z: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits, Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz composer Wynton Marsalis harmnonizes his love and knowledge of jazz’s most celebrated artists with an astounding diversity of poetic forms.

     A is for “almighty” Louis Armstrong, whose amazing artistry unfolds in an accumulative poem shaped like a crescendo. As for sax master Sonny Rollins, whose “robust style radiates roundness,” could there be a better tribute than a rondeau?  From simple blues (Count Basie) to a complex pantoum (Charlie Parker), from a tender sonnet (Sarah Vaughan) to a performance poem snapping the rhythms of Art Blakey to life, Marsalis celebrates the spirit of twenty-six stellar jazz performers and showcases the same number of poetic forms. Matching Marsalis’s musical cadences note for note is the bold, poster-style art of Paul Rogers, whose vibrant nostalgic feel is displayed from cover-to-cover — artistic tributes to beloved performers whose music still resonates throughout the world.

         In cooperation with Candlewick Press, Jerry Jazz Musician presents a gallery of six impressions from this colorful and vibrant book, featuring a poem by Marsalis, the work of Rogers, brief biographies by jazz historian and Jazz at Lincoln Center curator Phil Schaap, and sound samples of the musician’s work.

 

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Copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers

The Song is You, by Wynton Marsalis

 

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Copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers

“Lady Day”

by

Wynton Marsalis

 

 

Lazy, listless, languishing longly

laying low and all alone.

Losing at love and living.  I’m

lost in life….Lost and left alone.

Last-ditch lyrics idle on a low frequency, liminal song.

It’s a Lady.

Lady Bountiful leading the lilting lullaby,

Lady of the Lake with letter-perfect delivery,

Ladies Luna and Sol, luminous as the day is long,

It’s Lady Day.

She lavishes loving-kindness on a lonely lament.

Languid becomes luscious; lackluster, luxuriant.

Limp becomes lively; a little — a lot.  And

laughter lifts longing

all because a relentless lady loosed liquid life

on lines of mulish melody and lugubrious language

to deliver me from lasting lovelessness.

Should I laud my lady with gold leaf clusters?

     With a lavaliere of lapis lazuli

     or lotus and lilac poems?

Well, let me applaud Lady Day in song:

     Always will I love you and love to always love you.

 

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Excerpted from Jazz A – B – Z: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits

Text copyright © 2005 Wynton Marsalis

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King Oliver is assured a place in history because he was Louis Armstrong’s mentor.  But he earns his own spot in the jazz pantheon by his music.  Oliver’s wizadry was essential to the emergence of jazz.  His early solo work is the prototype:  King’s improvisations replace the song’s melody but follow its form.  It’s still done that way today.

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Chimes Blues, by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers.

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers.

During the Swing Era, Fats Waller was as popular as any jazz figure.  Born five years after the Duke, Fats would write as many standards and have even more big hits than Ellington.  His singing and sense of humor were the equal of Satchmo’s.  And nobody played Harlem Stride piano better than he.

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Ain’t Misbehavin’

Although Billie Holiday lacked the awe-inspiring elements expected in singers, she is the jazz vocalist.  Her definitive emotional power even reaches the hearts of many who appreciate her alone among jazz performers.

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Them There Eyes

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers.

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers.

Lester Young, a tenor saxophonist, was the primary soloist in the original Count Basie Orchestra and Billie Holiday’s favorite accompanist.  “Prez,” as Young was known, helped relax the rhythm of jazz, while creating an entire style for the tenor sax and improvising some of the most inspired and melodic phrases in jazz history.

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Just You, Just Me

 

Charlie Parker, displaying virtuosity and a new sense of the beat, improvised strings of notes that revealed a deep knowledge and insight into harmony.  Parker’s style is the core of BeBop, the new jazz of the 1940s and the style that dominates to this day.

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Now’s the Time

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers.

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers.

“Jeru” just might be the most significant figure in the Cool School of jazz.  Gerry Mulligan combined the rhythmic relaxation heard in the Swing Era and coupled it to the emphasis on technique and display of harmonic knowledge common to BeBop.  That’s Cool Jazz, and Gerry was cool.  

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Black Nightgown

 

JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS. Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers. Text copyright © 2005 Wynton Marsalis. Biographical sketches copyright © 2005 Phil Schaap. Reproduced by permission of the publisher Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers

About Paul Rogers

Paul Rogers has more than twenty-five years of experience as an illustrator and poster artist.  His clients include the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Pixar Pictures, the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Warner Brothers Studios.  He created the official poster for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2002 and 2004, and also for Super Bowl XXXVII.  His work has won awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Association of Illustrators/London, the Society of Illustrators/New York, American Illustration, Communication Arts, Graphis Poster, and Print.  His drawings and paintings have been exhibited at the Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans and the Mendenhall Sobieski Gallery in Pasadena, California.  He recently joined the faculty of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

 

Copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers

About Phil Schaap

Jazz historian Phill Schaap serves as curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center. As an educator, he has taught jazz at the graduate level at Columbia University and Rutgers University, and he continues his academic teaching career at Princeton University.  Schaap has been broadcasting jazz on the radio for thirty-five years on WKCR and has won Grammy Awards for historical writing, producing, and audio engineering.

 

 

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JAZZ ABZ: AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS.

Illustrations copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers. Text copyright © 2005 Wynton Marsalis. Biographical sketches copyright © 2005 Phil Schaap. Reproduced by permission of the publisher Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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Copyright © 2005 Paul Rogers