The Story of the Saxophone by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome

Published by Holiday House

Summary:  Although the saxophone is known for its role in American jazz music, its story starts in 19th-century Belgium with a young man named Joseph-Antoine Adelphe Sax.  The son of an instrument maker, Adolphe was curious and inventive.  He loved creating new instruments and decided that symphonies and marching bands needed one whose volume was between a clarinet and a trumpet.  The result, the saxophone, was mostly met with disdain or even downright hatred until the French composer Hector Berlioz fell in love with it.  Soon, the saxophone was sweeping through regimental bands all over Europe.  When France went to war with Mexico in 1861, a member of the Mexican Cavalry Band got his hands on a saxophone and eventually brought it to New Orleans, where jazz musicians embraced it and continue to do so today.  Includes portraits of jazz saxophonists on the endpapers.  40 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  This would make an excellent addition to a music library, and budding saxophonists will find the history of their instrument inspiring.  James Ransome’s illustrations bring the various characters and time periods to life.

Cons:  I was looking forward to additional information about Sax and his instrument, with maybe a timeline and additional resources, but there were none of those things.

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