8 music themed books that will get you in the mood for Jazz Fest!


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Summer is officially here and the city is filled with the sweet sounds of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. To help set the mood, VPL’s reading experts bring you this list of jazz books and music to enjoy.

Brilliant Corners by Thelonious MonkBrilliant Corners by Thelonious Monk

Originally recorded in 1956, Brilliant Corners is one of the most adventurous and ambitious sessions in Thelonious Monk’s career. Featuring saxophonist Sonny Rollins and drummer Max Roach, this album still has the power to surprise and seduce its listeners.

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael OndaatjeComing Through Slaughter Michael Ondaatje

This award-winning novel is based on the life of cornetist Buddy Bolden, considered by many as one of the founders of jazz. Blending fact and fiction, Michael Ondaatje transports readers to Storyville, New Orleans, to discover jazz where it all began.

Jazz by Toni MorrisonJazz by Toni Morrison

Every voice amazes in this novel by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, whose work explores the culture and experiences of black Americans with emotional honesty. Morrison tells the story of three intersecting lives, set against the backdrop of jazz in Harlem during the 1920s.

The Jazz Ear by Ben RatliffThe Jazz Ear by Ben Ratliff

This guide by jazz critic Ben Ratliff is a compilation of interviews with jazz masters originally published in The New York Times as part of the “Listening With” series. This ‘who’s who’ filled with jazz insights will delight both seasoned and new listeners alike.

Kind of Blue by Miles DavisKind of Blue by Miles Davis

Miles Davis assembles a stellar band of musicians for this bestselling jazz album, including saxophonist John Coltrane and bassist Paul Chambers. Kind of Blue has had a big influence on musicians and is the type of album that even non-jazz fans will enjoy.

Living with Jazz by Dan MorgensternLiving with Jazz by Dan Morgenstern

This essential book on jazz is written by influential jazz critic Dan Morgenstern, known for his fluent and narrative style. This selection of his best articles, interviews, liner notes and reviews offers an ideal introduction to the history of jazz music and legendary musicians.

Satch Plays Fats by Louis ArmstrongSatch Plays Fats by Louis Armstrong

Renowned trumpeter and singer Louis “Satch” Armstrong joins forces with composer Fats Waller, and the combination will have you bouncing to the jazzy beat. This updated release of the original 1955 album offers jazz lovers even more pieces by Fats and Satch.

Why Jazz Happened by Marc MyersWhy Jazz Happened by Marc Myers

This well-researched book sheds light on the cultural and social changes that impacted jazz’s development from 1942 to 1972. Fans of jazz will enjoy the funny stories, memories and reflections masterfully woven into the narrative.

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