Jazz Baby


April has been designated Jazz Appreciation Month. John Edward Hasse, the Smithsonian’s curator of American music, has said that ‘Every April I’d love to see the country riff, swing, boogie and bop to the syncopated strains of jazz.’ Well, Mr. Hasse, you’ll be glad to know that the little ones whose families, schools or libraries pick up the book Jazz Baby will be doing just that. Actually, in the words of author Carole Boston Weatherford, they will ‘blow, tap, snap, pound, swing, sway, shake, shimmy, plink, pluck, hum and cut a rug’. Aimed at 1-6 year olds, this colorful book illustrated by Laura Freeman has a multi-cultural cast of eight boys and girls playing trumpet, piano, bass and drums, singing and dancing. Alluding to some of our jazz greats, one wears a beret and another a white flower in her hair. Many in the jazz community have expressed longing for a return to the days when jazz was dance music. Maybe Jazz Baby will help spark a revival! Beyond its own merits as a cute, fun book, hopefully Jazz Baby will help expose a whole new generation to jazz. Initially, I regretted the lack of accompanying tape or CD. But maybe it’s good that parents will have to pull jazz from their own collections or search for new music to get those jazz babies boppin’.