Written by Roxanne Orgill
Illustrated by Francis Vallejo
Nothing goes better with jazz music than poetry. The author chose poetic form to tell the amazing story of how Art Kane, a graphic designer at Esquire magazine, gathered fifty eight of the best jazz musicians and took their picture.
Kane spent an entire day scouting a typical brownstone for the shoot. He sent the word out through the musicians’ union for all to show up on August 12 without their instruments. Despite the early hour (for musicians), all showed up in their Sunday best. Was it curiosity or for love of their craft? No one knows for sure. The photograph was so famous, it was featured in the movie The Terminal. The main character was trying to get a copy autographed while the musicians were still alive.
Mary Lou Williams, pianist and composer, arrived in her Cadillac and fashionable dressed. Thelonius Monk, pianist, was late because he had to try on all his jackets. Willie “the Lion” Smith, another pianist, wasn’t in the final picture because he was on the stoop next door. He couldn’t stand up for long. Neighborhood children buzzed around and helped where they could.
Any fourth grader with interest in music or history will treasure this peek into a historic gathering. The details are amazing.
- Title: Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
- Author: Roxanne Orgill
- Illustrator: Francis Vallejo
- Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 66 pages
- Grade Level: 3 to 7
- Genre: Music, Jazz, History
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-6954-6
- Extras: Table of Contents, The photograph with key, Author’s Note, Source notes, Biographies of selected musicians, Harlem 1958: Beyond Esquire, Extensive bibliography