On a hot Tuesday in August 1958, photographer Art Kane summoned a host of musicians to a Harlem brownstone for a photo shoot. The black-and-white picture he captured, now referred to as “A Great Day in Harlem,” ran in Esquire magazine and became famous. With 21 rhythmic poems, Roxane Orgill’s Jazz Day (Candlewick Press, 2016) captures the story behind Kane’s celebrated photo, bringing it to life for young readers.
Once a music critic, Orgill pokes at Thelonious Monk’s tardy arrival, “Dizzy” Gillespie’s silliness, and Duke Ellington’s absence. She imagines the neighborhood boys who line the curb in Kane’s photo getting into scuffles and mischief, and a little girl pictured in the window waiting for the crowds to leave. The book includes biographies of the musicians. Artist Francis Vallejo provides lively acrylic and pastel illustrations, making this an inviting introduction to jazz for a new generation. —Mary Jackson in WORLD