352Z: Jazz Musicians Guide Boy Falsely Accused of Theft

I’m looking for a young adult book which I read in the late 80s/early 90s. It’s about a boy, who gets accused of stealing in school, big  jazz elements as there are some jazz musicians who help him (and references to many jazz greats), it’s about righting wrongs without having to tattle.
So : a bit more detail. He gets accused. He didn’t do it but knows his wealthy classmate did it.
In the early part of the book, he wears a t-shirt that says “Don’t cheer boys, the poor fellows are dying” which is a quote from John Woodward Phillip and his t-shirt is met with disapproval from the principal.
The kid is in deep trouble as everyone thinks he stole and he has to go see a judge in court, I think.
Finally, and most importantly, there are a number of jazz musicians who provide the protagonist kid with help and guidance.
The book is about jazz, doing the right thing and the reality of being a poor kid whom everyone assumes has stolen whereas the rich kid is not even a suspect cos why would he even need to steal?
It’s really well written but I can’t remember the name or author and would love to read it again.

6 thoughts on “352Z: Jazz Musicians Guide Boy Falsely Accused of Theft

  1. Any chance it’s by the late libertarian Nat Hentoff, who wrote several young-adult novels (through 1965-1982) on jazz, school, delinquents, politics, and censorship? A few titles:
    Jazz Country
    Journey into Jazz
    I’m Really Dragged but Nothing Gets Me Down
    In the Country of Ourselves
    This School Is Driving Me Crazy
    Does This School Have Capital Punishment?
    The Day They Came to Arrest the Book

    I’d say the most likely candidate is This School is Driving Me Crazy (1976), since, to my knowledge, it’s the only one that mentions theft.

    • Oooh – was “The Day They Came to Arrest the Book” about a school that had parents wanting to ban “Huckleberry Finn”? I think I read that one as a teenager.

      • Yes, it’s about Huck Finn – but, like Neil Simon’s plays, Hentoff’s novel has what some critics call “too-clever dialogue.”

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