Trumpet

B+
May 21, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Improvising on jazz great Billy Tipton’s gender-bending life, Scottish poet Jackie Kay’s mesmerizing first novel Trumpet opens with the death of Joss Moody, a beloved, black jazz trumpet player from Glasgow. A startled funeral director and gleeful tabloid press reveal that this brilliant, handsome musician was, in fact, a woman — with no one more surprised than Joss’ 30ish son, Colman. Kay humanizes such sensational material by alternating the richly syncopated voices of Joss’ family — from wounded Colman, who vengefully collaborates with a hack biographer, to Joss’ demure white wife, Millicent — to create a surprisingly tender tale about how true love abides no restrictions. B+

Trumpet

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