Jazz Day

The Making of a
Famous Photograph

Candlewick Press
(published 3.8.2016) 66 pages

A True Tale
with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Roxane Orgill
      and Illustrator: Francis Vallejo

C haracters: Jazz musicians & photographer Art Kane

O verview from the jacket flap:

    "In 1958, Esquire magazine was planning a special issue focused on American jazz. Art Kane, a graphic designer in New York City, pitched a crazy idea: gather a many jazz musicians as were willing and photograph the group. Kane got the assignment - but he didn't own a professional camera, he didn't know how many musicians would show up, and he wanted to shoot the photograph in front of a Harlem brownstone. Would his idea work?

      Kane pulled it off, and in Jazz Day, Roxane Orgill takes us inside the frame of his famous photograph, Harlem 1958, with a collection of poems that re-creates that serendipitous day. She captures the musicians' mischief and quirks, their pleasure in seeing each other, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer's day. Francis Vallejo's vibrant paintings are reminiscent of a rich period in jazz history and do justice to the larger-that-life quality of the musicians of the era."

T antalizing taste:

William "Count" Basie, pianist

"Nobody calls me Bill
Except my wife
I'm the Count
Ol' Base
Or Holy Main
As in main stem
The buck stops here
Guys in the band
They give you a name
To fit your personality
Or your playing
Same thing
Hot Lips
Pee Wee
Short for President
Of the Tenor Saxophone
Who's Lester Young
Got his name
From Eleanora
Known as Billie Holiday
Except to Pres
Who calls her Lady Day
He calls lots of people Lady
Even me"

and something more:  I love hearing about the background of a story and I believe certain stories do indeed tell their authors how they should be told. In the Author's Note in Jazz Day, Roxane Orgill explains that the "verses about the musicians are based on fact ... I've known of Art Kane's photograph for about as long as I've been listening to jazz, which I got to know as a sideline to my job as a classical music critic... I wanted to tell the story of how the photo got made and of some of the people who happened to be in it. What I didn't expect was that I'd begin writing poems. I write prose, not poetry But this story demanded a sense of freedom, an intensity, and a conciseness that prose could not provide."Yes! Prose poetry is perfect for this story.


Tara Smith said...

I love the sound of this collection - thanks for sharing it.

Cheriee Weichel said...

love the poem!

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

Great! Another multicultural PBB to add to my growing list. Thanks, Jeanne!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Tara! Yes, it's a creative way to tell the story of the people in the photograph using poetry.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Cheriee

Me too! Lots of great poetry in the book.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Myra!

You're welcome! It's a great addition.
Thanks for stopping by.

Roxane said...

Thank you, Jeanne, for featuring my book in your lively and knowledgeable blog. Using poetry to write about this famous picture came by accident; I'd never written poetry before. Now I'm intrigued how poetry can function in a similar way as narrative nonfiction, telling a true story. Thanks to all the people who commented as well.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Roxane (the author of JAZZ DAY),
Thanks for stopping by. What an impressive journey into poetry with this book! Yes, I too am intrigued about how poetry might be a compelling way to tell a true tale. Thanks for your book and your thoughts.