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Carol Friedman’s Kitty Literature

As anyone who’s perused the oversized pages of photographer Carol Friedman’s 1999 book The Jazz Pictures knows, she can capture the essence of a musician with her camera. But, as serious and classy as the black and white images in that book are, Friedman has a playful side which is very much in evidence between the covers of Nicky the Jazz Cat, her new book for kids out November 15 via Dominick Books.

The new book does feature shots of jazz stars, but its main character is Friedman’s pet black cat Nicky. Nicky appears in every picture in the 36-page book, lounging on couches along with top jazz talent: Roy Eldridge, Quincy Jones, Lena Horne, Gerry Mulligan, Abbey Lincoln and Lionel Hampton. This time Friedman presents her subjects in color and, appropriately for a children’s book, wrote rhyming verse that accompanies the photos in big, multi-colored text. While most kids more than five years old will be too old for the book, it could help an older fan of jazz’s old guard to get in touch with his or her inner child.

Nicky’s on CD too, or at least on a CD cover, as Friedman and the folks at Dominick have also put together Nicky’s Jazz for Kids, a compilation album of jazz for kids that features giants of the genre that, interestingly enough, don’t appear in the book. No matter, these are time-tested tunes that have introduced tykes to our favorite music for years and years. The track list:

1. Nat King Cole Trio – “Kee-Mo Ky-Mo (The Magic Song)”

2. Cab Calloway & His Orchestra – “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House”

3. Chick Webb & His Orchestra – “A Tisket, A Tasket”

4. Nat King Cole Trio – “Three Blind Mice”

5. Louis Prima – “The Music Goes ‘Round and Around”

6. Cab Calloway – “The Jungle King (You Ain’t Done a Doggone Thing)”

7. Louis Armstrong – “Ten Feet Off the Ground”

8. Fats Waller – “All That Meat and No Potatoes”

9. Count Basie – “Jeepers Creepers”

10. Dizzy Gillespie – “The Umbrella Man”

11. Chick Webb & His Orchestra – “Chew-Chew-Chew (Chew Your Bubblegum)”

12. Fats Waller – “Your Feet’s Too Big”

13. Peggy Lee – “A Doodlin’ Song”

Should these two items make a bona fide jazzbo out of your innocent child and you soon find yourself scrambling for more kiddie jazz fare, check out the book and CD’s Web site, www.nickythejazzcat.com. The site is filled with quizzes, contests and even a number of jazz artist biographies-older kids might enjoy this stuff-and you can also order the book and/or the CD straight from the site.

Originally Published