Cover image for The sound that jazz makes
The sound that jazz makes
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956-
Publication Information:
New York : Walker & Co., [2000]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : chiefly color illustrations ; 31 cm
An illustrated history of the origins and influences of jazz, from Africa to contemporary America.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.7 0.5 57990.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3506 .W42 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
ML3506 .W42 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A symphony of sound and color, The Sound That Jazz Makes is an eloquently rendered celebration of a remarkable heritage. Author Carole Boston Weatherford's lyrical stanzas combine with the power of luminous oil paintings by Coretta Scott King New Talent winner, Eric Velasquez (The Piano Man) to trace the development of jazz. From African forests to wooden slave ships to Harlem nightclubs, the tragic and joyous legacy of the African-American experience gives jazz its passion and spirit.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4. Weatherford's four-line lyrics combine with Eric Velasquez's paintings to evoke the musical and historical underpinnings of jazz. The story is told through a series of two-page spreads in which the lyrics function as captions to the paintings. Beginning in Africa, the evocative full-color illustrations move through slavery to freedom and the emergence of jazz. Velasquez, who won the Coretta Scott King New Talent Award for The Piano Man (1998), uses the page effectively, often placing oversized figures outside the frames of his background scenes, creating a sense of the power of the individual voice to rise above its environment, as in a Delta bluesman singing "songs of blood and sweatof men laying tracks and casting nets." The lyrics, which use a repetitive refrain to establish the interconnectedness of the various antecedents and types of jazz, possess a flowing rhythm that younger listeners will respond to eagerly. Others may find the simple rhymes a bit sing-songy. Still, this should work well as an introduction to jazz in which words and pictures are combined with samples of the music. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Molding her rhymed text to the rhythms and cadences of "This Is the House That Jack Built," Weatherford (Juneteenth Jamboree) distills an entire course in music history, tracing the roots of jazz back to its origins in Africa and up to its current incarnation in rap and hip hop. Each spread focuses on a different period and a different musical form, e.g., "This is the field where slaves turned the soil,/ and chanted of freedom while they toiled/ to pass the message, through secret codes,/ of stealing away on pitch-dark roads." Ragtime, blues, Dixieland, gospel, swing and be-bop all receive mention on the way to the triumphant conclusion: "Jazz is a downbeat born in our nation,/ chords of struggle and jubilation,/ bursting forth from hearts set free/ in notes that echo history." Even though Weatherford's language is vibrant, the familiar "House That Jack Built" strains may cause problems: their musicality has little to do with the music at hand, and enforces a simplicity at odds with the references here ("cakewalkers," "Delta bluesman," etc.). Velasquez's portraits emphasize the dignity and pride of his subjects, whether he is suggesting the rage and misery of captives or re-creating photos of "Duke" and "Lady." But the effect is uneven: the paintings are sometimes moving, sometimes stagy. An ambitious project, not quite realized. All ages. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-This book traces the evolution of jazz in a poem of four-line stanzas that begins with an African drum beat and ends with a rapper who still hears "-the age-old, far-off beat/of Africa drumming on every street." Each stanza accompanies a full-spread oil painting outlined with a crayon line and bordered in white. On many pages, one figure-an African kalimba player, a Delta bluesman, etc.-is featured in front of the painting, breaking the frame and extending into the white space below. The animated African animals and dancers depicted in warm golds and browns contrast sharply with the still figures and somber tones of the scenes on slave ships and in plantation fields. These, too, contrast with the bright colors and movement of the cakewalkers, gospel singers, and swing and bebop musicians with their arms or instruments lifted joyously upward. The final illustration of a young African-American trumpet player with his family against a background that incorporates many elements from the previous paintings is a satisfying synthesis of both the visual and written elements of the book: "JAZZ is a downbeat born in our nation,/chords of struggle and jubilation,/bursting forth from hearts set free/in notes that echo history./This is the sound that jazz makes!" Although some of the rhymes don't scan as well as others, this is still an especially attractive, satisfying pictorial introduction to and celebration of this unique American musical form.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.