Jazz: A History of America's Music

By Geoffrey C. Ward

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This book, written with Ken Burns, accompanies the PBS TV series of the same name. It traces the evolution of jazz from its birth in New Orleans through big band, swing, bebop, fusion, acid, and avant-garde. Covered also are the well-known and the not-so-known musicians of jazz - black and white. The photographs that accompany the text are fascinating.

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Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

By Kevin Boyle

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A young man from the South moves to Detroit and finds the land of honey, but also runs into the Klan of the '20s, and he is indicted for murder. A fascinating true story.

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Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York.  She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away.  They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing.  The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella.  At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building.  It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money.  But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie.  They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.

Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line.  From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street.  They were in Harlem.  Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue.  When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change.  They were making more money than the shoeshine boys.  Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.

Struts & Frets

By Jon Skovron

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Sammy Bojar is in a band with a lame name and a scary, talentless lead singer. As he struggles to gain control of his own songwriting career, he is helped by his neurotic jazz pianist grandfather and his old best friend/new girlfriend. Struts & Frets manages to be authentic while suggesting many real life rock and jazz artists.
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New Orleans

By Dan Storper

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"A celebration of jazz, blues and swing, New Orleans style!"
Drop me off in New Orleans (Kermit Ruffins) -- Got a right to sing the blues (Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton) -- Basin Street Blues (Louis Prima) -- Wrap your troubles in dreams (Preservation Hall Hot 4 with Duke Dejan) -- Baby won't you please come home (Topsy Chapman and the Pros) -- The devil done got me blues (Kevin Clark and the Jazz Revelation) -- Tin roof blues (Louis Armstrong) -- Basin street blues (Dr. John) -- Give it up (Dr Michael White) -- Going back to New Orleans (Deacon John) -- Bye and Bye/Saints (Gregg Stafford and Dr. Michael White).
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Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron

Sammy Bojar plays guitar in Tragedy of Wisdom with a frightening and talentless lead singer (guess which member chose the name). Most of their practices end in a ragin' tantrum. It looks like a dead-end situation for Sammy and his crew, until a battle of the bands competition gives them a possible chance to record a song for radio play. As Sammy struggles to gain control of his songwriting career, he is helped by his paranoid jazz pianist grandfather and his old best friend/new girlfriend, Jen5. 

Jon Skovron’s debut novel Struts & Frets manages to be authentic in its language and characterization every step of the way. The book is littered with the sort of phrases and people that I can swear I heard and met in high school and at local concerts when I was a teen, right down to the friend who can play video game theme songs with his sweaty, sweaty hand-farts.

Becoming Billie Holiday

By Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

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This biography in verse captures the teen years and early career of the legendary jazz singer. Billie’s penchant for trouble and the hardships she overcame provide a compelling narrative while Cooper's illustrations complement the lyricism of the text.

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