Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (Book & Cassette)

Dizzy Gillespie
Artist Group: 
Richard Allen, Chris Raschka
Live Oak Media / Orchard
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Short Review: 
With jazz vocalist Richard Allen read-singing Chris Raschka’s words to the music of Parker and Gillespie on <I>Night in Tunisia</I> and Raschka’s commentary on his inspiration for creating this book, this book-and-tape set makes an excellent (and fun) introduction to the jazz music of the be bop era.
Long Review: 

Chris Raschka’s first, this inventive picture book captures the magic of Charlie Parker’s music in words, sounds, and pictures. Inspired by the music of Charlie Parker, Raschka wrote the words to match the rhythm and the beat of Parker and Dizzy Gillespie on Night in Tunisia. And because this book is all about music and sound – the whimsical words are kind of like Raschka’s own “scatting” to the music of Charlie Parker on alto sax on Night in Tunisia – the audio component augments the book. Jazz vocalist Richard Allen performs the book two times, in two different ways. First, he reads the words slowly so children can read along – and because there is music in the background, there are no distracting page turn signals on either side of the tape. Then, Allen reads the book in a special way, “with a rhythm and a beat that goes along with the music you can hear in the background.” In both readings, Allen performs with a sensuous musicality – but on the second reading, his sliding tones and breathy drawing out of sounds match the rhythm of the music, and it sounds as if he’s singing along. Chris Raschka introduces Allen and explains the different ways he will be reading the book. After the second performance of the book, Raschka returns and talks about how the wonderful music of Charlie Parker and others have inspired him, and he encourages young listeners to listen to and learn about other jazz artists. It is clear that this book was a labor of love, a tribute to a greatly admired artist, and Raschka’s commentary gives an intimate, personal note that really draws the listener in. This is an example of a book on tape that makes excellent use of and really benefits from its audio component. Look for this gem at your local public library or bookstore, or you can purchase it online at .

Lauren Mayer