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Children's LiteratureMixed together like the spicy gumbo of its southern hometown, jazz music has a history of blending all sorts of various ingredients to achieve its unique flavor. Born in New Orleans, and growing up in Chicago, Kansas City and New York City, jazz certainly has a colorful past. In The History of Jazz, Kallen takes readers on a musical adventure to discover this past, introducing them to jazz greats along the way such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. From tight quartets, to big bands, to the age of the solo improvisation, Kallen traces the growth of jazz as a truly American musical form. Inspiring even an historical period—the Jazz Age—jazz music has been a highly sophisticated and influential form of music. Stringing together a series of mini-biographies, Kallen emphasizes how individual musicians have played a key role in creating the different styles of jazz—swing, bebop, cool jazz, hard bop and jazz fusion. His in-depth examination of the music provides readers with a more expansive view of jazz—helping them understand that it is not just the music of the flapper and Prohibition, but also of Harlem, the swing clubs and jazz bands today. Although it is not suited for a cover to cover reading for the typical young reader, The History of Jazz is an excellent resource for music, social and cultural history. 2003, Lucent Books/Thomson Gale, Ages 14 up.
— Leah Hanson