Baby’s First Hot Jazz Book


Even as a younger generation of hot jazz lovers begins to spread the gospel of Rust, it never hurts to seed the ground for the future. Here’s a kid-friendly educational resource to start their children on the right path:

A is for Louis Armstrong, who taught jazz to sing,

louis armstrong


B is for Bix Beiderbecke, who brought a softer side to swing.

Bix Beiderbecke and his Rhythm Jugglers, 1925, from left to right: Howdy Quicksell (banjo), Tom Gargano (drums), Paul Mertz (piano), Don Murray (clarinet), Bix Beiderbecke (cornet), and Tommy Dorsey (trombone).

C is for Bill Challis, who wrote great charts though history books often leave him out,


D is for Don Redman, an arranger even Ken Burns talks about!


E is for Ellington, a serious composer who made people dance,


F is for Fletcher Henderson: name a great soloist and he probably gave them their first chance!

G is for Goldkette, he had great sidemen but never gets his due,


H is for Coleman Hawkins, the father of jazz saxophone and a tough cookie (though his early sides he clearly did rue).


I is for “I Never Miss The Sunshine,” Frank’s Trumbauer’s amazing premier,

Left to right: Ray Thurston, Marty Livingston, Pee Wee Russell, Frankie Trumbauer, Dee Orr, Bix Beiderbecke, Bud Hassler, Louis Feldman, Dan Gaebe, Wayne Jacobson.

Left to right: Ray Thurston, Marty Livingston, Pee Wee Russell, Frankie Trumbauer, Dee Orr, Bix Beiderbecke, Bud Hassler, Louis Feldman, Dan Gaebe, Wayne Jacobson.

J is for Jack Pettis, who wasn’t a “father” but whose originality was clear.


K is for King Oliver, who taught young Satch but also had his own great style,


L is for Eddie Lang, who also shaped the music, even if he only stayed a little while.


M is for Miff Mole, trombone original with a name that’s silly,


N is for Red Nichols, his partner, another original whose playing was far from just frilly.

Red Nichols Photo care of Stephen Hester

Red Nichols Photo care of Stephen Hester

O is for Kid Ory and his bluesy, big slip horn,


P is for poor Ben Pollack, who gave Teagarden, Miller, and Goodman a break and even led the Bob Crosby band before it was born!


Q is for QRS, a label featuring Jelly, Fats, James P. Johnson, Clarence and Fatha’ Hines,


R is for respect to all of them plus Willie Smith and other piano lions.


S is for Mamie, Bessie, Clara and other Smiths of the blues,


T is territory bands, whose music is still making news.


U is for underdog, because that’s how this music got its start,



V is for “Variety Stomp” for no other reason than the tune is close to this writer’s heart.

W is for the first record you like, which will change everything.

X is for that favorite record, to be discovered by you and admired because it will make you sing!

“Y” is a good question, but not every day…

because Z is for “zing”: if the music makes you say that, what else is left to say?


7 thoughts on “Baby’s First Hot Jazz Book

  1. Roger Wade says:

    Fantastic! What a great idea!

  2. Albert Haim says:

    V is for Venuti, Joe and for violin, his instrument.The father of jazz violin.
    R is for Rollini, Adrian, highly talented multi-instrumentalist who transformed the bass sax into a “regular” member of the reed family..

  3. Rob Chalfen says:

    Pettis also made the first jazz solo on film

  4. jazzlives says:

    ZING is just right. Witty and sweet and right on the mark. AJS knows where ONE is!

  5. “X” is for the extraordinary XAVIER CUGAT! Fantastic ABC’s for Jazz!

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