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Jazz Fiction: The Bear Comes Home

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The Bear Comes Home
Rafi Zabor
Norton
ISBN: 0099272555
Pages: 480

So you think talking bears are kid stuff? How about 480 pages of a walking, jiving, verbally gifted, domesticated mammal that—above all else—is a soulful saxophonist with a passion for bebop?

Jazz drummer Rafi Zabor has taken the liberty to reveal the life of his fictional creation, simply known as the Bear, in a way few—if any—others have attempted in his novel, The Bear Comes Home. The protagonist possesses an intellect highly uncommon to his species as we know it; in addition to his musical talents, his tri-lingual abilities (he is fluent in English, German, and Latin) are just one unique aspect of this oversized Paddington replica sure to surprise and delight.

As a musician, the Bear aspires to liken his playing to heroes such as Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane. A recording session with Charlie Hayden and Billy Hart spawns a successful CD, which in turn leads to several weeks in the life of a touring musician.

Certainly by now a few questions are formulating. Does the Bear find it necessary to modify his horn in order to accommodate a slobbery snout and massive paws? Does he sport the jazzer's traditional pork pie hat? And just how does he deal with the attention that comes from being not just a new celebrity, but a bear to boot?

I don't intend to give away all the answers, but I will say that if you are interested in a story of a different color, this novel is for you. Although a bit long-winded at times, Zabor's glimpse into the life of a talented musician—who isn't just a big furry guy with a horn, but who also is trying to balance a life of serious music and romance (yes, it's with a human companion...no details offered here) offers a realistic (ok, well, except for the talking bear part) view of the every-musician.

The Bear Comes Home is truly an entertaining read for anyone interested in all things jazz. Both music aficionados and musicians alike are sure to appreciate Zabor's merging of real-life musical experiences and creative imaginative scenarios. This entertaining storyline carves out a decisive corner in the understated realm of jazz fiction.

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