Legendary Jazz Sax Player Charlie Parker Would Have Turned 100 this Saturday, August 29th, 2020
A Brief One by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
Posted August 29th, 2020
They called him “Bird” – apparently because of the way his fingers flew across the keys of his alto saxophone.
Charlie Parker was and is – without doubt, in the minds of virtually every musicologist in the world – one of the true revolutionaries in the field of Jazz and in the field of music in general.
In the late 1940s, moving on into the 1950s, he broke all the rules in a world of jazz that was then mostly big bands playing swing music.
He fronted a free-wheeling sound that became known as “bop” or “bebop” in smaller groups that blew listeners away with off-beat time structures and with solos that, outside of some of the great trumpet lines Louis Armstrong pulled off decades earlier that blew listeners minds, like a guitar solo by Jimi Hendrix would do a few decades later.
One of the greatest music journalists of all time, Ralph J. Gleason, once wrote of him; if you are looking for “a musician of extraordinary and compelling talent and personality, Charlie Parker was such a man.”
Charlie Parker literally was to his instrument and music, what the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton would later become to theirs – a ground-breaking artist whose influence remains relevant to this day.
Unfortunately, like so many other black musicians performing music that was out of the mainstream at that time – like Billie Holiday, John Coltrane and too many others – the relentless racism and alcohol and drug addictions took a tragic toll.
Charlie Parker died in New York City on March 12th in 1955 – but his music and the influence he has made on musicians to this day lives on.
I leave the last word to Charlie in the video immediately below, where he and his now legendary musical mate Dizzy Gillespie receive a coveted award for their work in 1951. Click on the screen below to watch it –
For Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix and all other African Americans whose lives have been cut short as a result of systemic racism that has claimed them through drug addiction, suicide, shootings or whatever other way, BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Doug Draper Niagara At Large
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