If you select audio material for children, consider adding the read along This Jazz Man from Live Oak Media to your collection. You may remember when the picture book written by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R.G. Roth was published back in 2006, playing on the traditional rhyme “This Old Man.” This Jazz Man, the read-along, is more than a narrated picture book: it is a unique opportunity to take in a live jazz performance and a work of art and literature all at the same time. Narrator James “D Train” Williams changes his tone, rhythm and accent to reflect each of the nine players represented in the book. When the Cuban conga player and composer Luciano Pozo y Gonzalez is featured, Williams speaks with a Cuban accent, and when Louie Armstrong is on the stage, Williams scats in Louie’s fashion. Each jazz man’s instrument is brought to the forefront when the player is featured, like when we hear an old time piano featured on Fats Waller’s two page spread. The original composition serves as a great introduction to jazz, but there is much more for a seasoned ear to enjoy as well, including musical puns, rhythm changes, and nods to the individual player’s style.
Be sure to put this in the hands of musicians, music lovers, and appreciators of jazz, regardless of their age. Home-schooling families and small classes of children in particular could use this recording as a springboard to study jazz.