Charlie Parker

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Parker, (Charles, Jr.) Charlie (“Bird” or “Yardbird”)

(1920–55) jazz musician; born in Kansas City, Kans. (Note: His name sometimes appears as Charles Christopher Parker Jr., a misnomer.) An only child, he was raised by his mother in Kansas City, Mo., an important center of jazz and blues activity in the 1930s. He received his first music lessons on the baritone horn in the public schools in 1931; three years later he dropped out of school to concentrate on mastering the alto saxophone and watching Lester Young, Count Basie, Hot Lips Page, and other locally based musicians. In 1936 he spent the summer playing in the Ozarks with George E. Lee's band; that same year, he entered the first of his four legal or common law marriages, became a father, and developed an addiction to heroin. Between 1937 and 1939, he played in Kansas City with Lawrence Keyes, Tommy Douglas, Harland Leonard, and his mentor Buster Smith, and he was an inveterate participant in the city's competitive jam sessions. He spent most of 1939 in New York, where he frequently heard the virtuoso pianist Art Tatum and began working out the rhythmic and harmonic ideas that would form the basis of modern jazz. Between 1940 and 1942 he began gaining attention as a featured sideman on recordings and broadcasts with Jay McShann. In 1943 to 1944, he played briefly with the big bands of Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine, where he was a galvanizing figure among his rebellious colleagues, including Dizzy Gillespie. The year 1945 marked a turning point in his career: he led his own group in New York, made numerous combo recordings in the new and controversial bebop style, and played extensively with Gillespie. In December 1945 they played an unsuccessful engagement in Hollywood, but Parker remained in Los Angeles. In June 1946, he suffered a nervous breakdown related to his drug addiction and alcoholism, and he was confined for six months at Camarillo State Hospital. He made a triumphant return to New York in 1947 and formed his celebrated quintet featuring Miles Davis and Max Roach. For the next four years, he worked almost exclusively in New York and recorded the majority of his most famous performances. He toured in Europe in 1949 and 1950, and was showcased in a variety of settings, including a string ensemble, a big band, and Afro-Cuban bands in New York clubs and concert halls and on records. By 1951 he was the most influential jazz musician in the world, but his notoriety as a heroin addict had also become legendary, and the New York police withdrew his cabaret card, a requisite to working in New York nightclubs. Thereafter, he adopted a more itinerant lifestyle, playing with pick-up groups in Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, Chicago, and in California, and appearing as guest soloist with bands led by Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. His cabaret card was reinstated in late 1953, but by then he was beset by sporadic employment, debt, and failing physical and mental health. He twice attempted suicide in 1954 and voluntarily committed himself to Bellevue Hospital in New York. His last public appearance was on March 5, 1955, at Birdland, the club that had been named in his honor in 1949. He died seven days later. His chaotic life formed the basis for the 1987 Clint Eastwood-directed dramatic film Bird.
References in periodicals archive ?
JOHN CONNOLLY is chatting to me about Charlie Parker, the gritty protagonist of his best-selling series of crime novels.
And surely his music lives on through the work of so many other great saxophonists--Coltrane, Rollins, just to name two--whose own improvisations find their roots in the music of the great Charlie Parker.
The trilogy is an interesting exercise by a talented writer, but I miss Charlie Parker.
NEW YORK, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 2008 schedules for its free citywide performing arts festivals -- CityParks Concerts presented by Verizon, CityParks Theater presented by Time Warner, CityParks Dance, and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival -- promising a summer of extraordinary outdoor entertainment in the city.
The highest profile of these was former regeneration executive director Charlie Parker, who has left the council to join Enterprise, the company that won a multi-million pound contract in Liverpool.
I cannot imagine a record buyer mistakenly coming home with the new Verve album when they've set out to buy a Charlie Parker box set.
But when you hear us jamming, remember that Charlie Parker jammed here, too .
Classic Jazz Of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, As
His latest effort finds him paying tribute to fellow tenors Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Charlie Parker.
Among the 51 victims of food poisoning listed were Liverpool council executive director for regeneration Charlie Parker and chairman of Liverpool magistrates committee Norman Draper.
8 /PRNewswire/ -- The musical legacy of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who along with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk gave birth to the modern jazz era, is explored in an article that appears in the February issue of Playboy magazine (on sale Tuesday, Jan.