The author discusses the enigmatic and extraordinary pianist, composer, and band leader, whose most notable achievements came during a time of major societal and cultural change, and often in the face of critics who at times found his music too technical and bombastic....
July 6th, 2020
Ingham’s “Jazz Narratives” connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. This edition’s narratives are “Released from Camarillo State Hospital, Charlie Parker Plays Jack’s Basket Room,” “Diz Railing at the Cosmos,” and “Speaking in Tongues”...
April 3rd, 2020
“Thinking about Charlie Parker,” comes from a series entitled Pastoral Scenes from the Gallant South (from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”)....
May 31st, 2019
sits on the end
of my bed
holding his alto sax.
and for pete’s sake! mr. traps:
buddy rich was also there,
getting his drum kit ready
by the end of the bed.
then ray brown’s there
and making a
September 13th, 2018
The late, great trumpeter Clark Terry once offered one of the most pointed, and humorous, comments about the perennial controversies in jazz over race and the perceived abilities of white versus black musicians…
He said, “My theory is that a note doesn’t give a...
August 16th, 2018
wind howls through trees round
corners shaking bushes windows eaves
lightning fractures night and all
you locked up in memory too fragile
to be handled comes tumbling out
July 26th, 2018
While the romantic notion is to imagine that the music coming out of the clubs lining New York’s 52nd Street during the 1940’s was universally applauded, we of course know that is not the case. In an example of this dissent, consider the words of Los Angeleno Norman Granz, who told Downbeat this during his April, 1945 visit to New York:
“Jazz in New York stinks! Even the drummers on 52nd St. sound like Dizzy Gillespie!”
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in the quality of music here. We keep getting great reports out west about the renaissance of jazz along 52nd St. but I’d like to know where it is. Literally, there isn’t one trumpet player in any of the clubs with the exception of ‘Lips’ Page and he was blowing a mellophone the night I caught him. Maybe Gillespie was great but the ‘advanced’ group that Charlie Parker is fronting at the Three Deuces doesn’t...
January 30th, 2018
Though his work as pianist with the Savoy Sultans, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and Sonny Stitt/Gene Ammons was important, he will always be most remembered as the pianist in Charlie Parker’s classic 1947 quintet. Who is he?
Go to the next page for the answer!...
January 16th, 2018
The night I truly ‘got’ the shining genius of Charlie Parker I was in my girlfriend’s apartment on the Lower East Side. The year was 1961. I was nineteen, she was much older and hipper, and had turned me on not only to some great music but to getting high as well. She had all the essential jazz records, including the one on the turntable that night. It was The Fabulous Bird, on the old Jazztone label, consisting of reissues of some of Bird’s phenomenal 1947 Dial sessions. She had a very low-fi stereo—I can still see the nickel she had scotch-taped to the tone arm to keep it in the grooves. But the fidelity didn’t matter, in part at least because this evening I had just smoked a...
January 3rd, 2018
“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”
The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives....
April 25th, 2016
In what is described by New York Times classical music writer Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim as the company’s “wider shift toward more new music,” on June 5, Opera Philadelphia will present the premier of composer Daniel Schnyder’s “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” which stars Lawrence Brownlee as the bebop legend.
According to Fonseca-Wollheim, Opera Philadelphia has “a general willingness to take risks on unorthodox subjects and genres. Philadelphia’s last season featured the American premiere of Ana Sokolovic’s ‘Svadba,’ a raucous Balkan wedding ritual; October will bring a ‘Popera’ about Andy Warhol, mixing elements of cabaret and opera.”
“The mix of musical styles is especially risky in ‘Yardbird,’” Fonseca-Wollheim writes, “since it offers...
June 1st, 2015
While he had a long career in jazz, including stints with, among others, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Sonny Stitt and Stan Getz, he will always be remembered primarily as the pianist in Charlie Parker’s classic 1947 quintet. Who is he?
Go to the next page for the answer!...
April 27th, 2015
I recall you
I remember you
You’re the one
who makes most dreams
just not your own
when the sax
Max Roach calls you
listen to Diz
man just don’t fade man!
I hear Lover again
Bird you’re with me
like my mother’s voice
February 26th, 2015
Interview with Stanley Crouch, author of Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker
Described by the New York Times as a “bebop Beowulf,” Stanley Crouch’s Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of Charlie Parker is a love song to the life and times of Bird, one of jazz music’s most critically important figures. Mr. Crouch, himself an essential participant in both contemporary criticism and in the delivery of live performance (through his work with Jazz at Lincoln Center), discusses his long-anticipated biography with Jerry Jazz Musician in a recently conducted interview....
January 22nd, 2014
In anticipation of our very soon-to-be-published interview with Charlie Parker biographer Stanley Crouch (see the preview below), poet Erren Kelly defends Parker from the caricature portrayed in Clint Eastwood’s 1989 film Bird.
Bird Read Beckett
bird read samuel beckett
he read novels and plays
he lived his life as one long
he prided himself on being
bird loved his fried chicken
and preferred his gin
to go down smooth
like his solos
take that lie back
January 21st, 2014
Ever since Patrick Jarenwattananon of the NPR Classical Music blog Deceptive Cadence published a story called “Why Jazz Musicians Love ‘The Rite of Spring'” in May, there has been a lot of traffic on the Jerry Jazz Musician page devoted to the meeting of Charlie Parker and Igor Stravinsky. NPR linked their readers to our “Great Encounters” page called “When Charlie Parker played for Igor Stravinsky,” where Jazz Modernism author, the late jazz scholar Alfred Appel, tells the story of how “Stravinsky roared with delight...
September 27th, 2013
“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes!” So ranted Thelonious Sphere Monk, who proved his point every time he sat down at the keyboard. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest composers. Yet throughout much of his life, his musical contribution took a backseat to tales of his reputed behavior. Writers tended to obsess over Monk’s hats or his proclivity to dance on stage. To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. But these labels tell us little about the man or his music....
April 15th, 2013
Stanley Crouch — MacArthur “genius” award recipient, co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, National Book Award nominee, and perennial bull in the china shop of black intelligentsia — has been writing about jazz and jazz artists for over thirty years. His reputation for controversy is exceeded only by a universal respect for his intellect and passion. As Gary Giddins notes: “Stanley may be the only jazz writer out there with the kind of rhinoceros hide necessary to provoke and outrage and then withstand the fulminations that come back.”...
September 10th, 2006
Excerpted from Chasin’ The Bird : The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker, by by Brian Priestley.
Early in 1945, Parker had begun his first live small-band gigs with Gillespie, after he too left Eckstine the previous December, working briefly with Boyd Radburn and then being booked on the Street. In the meantime, Charlie himself had played some Monday nights at the Spotlite (run by Clark Monroe of the Uptown House) and deputised in the Cootie Williams band, narrowly missing the young pianist Bud Powell, who had been invalided out of the band by a vicious beating from the police in Philadelphia. But, when Dizzy hired Charlie to complete the frontline of his new quintet at the Three Deuces in March,...
February 9th, 2006
Charlie Parker has been idolized by generations of jazz musicians and fans. Indeed, his spectacular musical abilities — his blinding speed and brilliant improvisational style — made Parker a legend even before his tragic death at age thirty-four.
In Chasin’ The Bird, Brian Priestley tells Parker’s life story, from his Kansas City childhood to his final harrowing days in New York. Priestley offers new insight into Parker’s career, beginning as a teenager single-mindedly devoted to mastering the saxophone, to his first trip to New York, where he washed dishes for $9.00 a week at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, a favorite hangout of the great pianist Art Tatum, whose stunning speed and ingenuity were an influence on the young musician....
February 6th, 2006
There were but four major galaxies in the early jazz universe, and three of them — New Orleans, Chicago, and New York — have been well documented in print. But there has never been a serious history of the fourth, Kansas City, until the recent publication of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — A History, by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix....
September 30th, 2005
John Leland’s Hip: The History is the story of an American obsession. Derived from the Wolof word hepi or hipi (“to see,” or “to open one’s eyes”), which came to America with West African Slaves, hip is the dance between black and white — or insider and outsider — that gives America its unique flavor and rhythm. It has created fortunes, destroyed lives and shaped the way millions of us talk, dress, dance, make love or see ourselves in the mirror. Everyone knows what hip is....
January 3rd, 2005
Illicit drugs have transfigured the American cultural landscape in the past half-century, leaving their mark on everything from art, music, literature, sexuality, spirituality, pop culture, the economy, and politics, to crime, public health, and national law enforcement policy. In Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945 – 2000, documentary filmmaker and writer Martin Torgoff traces the tangled trajectory of illegal drug use in America, as it spread post-World War II from the Beats and bebop musicians, all the way to the Ecstasy-fueled rave culture....
August 27th, 2004
Excerpted from Jazz Modernism, by Alfred Appel
Charlie Parker enthusiasts circa 1950 often declared him the jazz equivalent of Stravinsky and Bartok, and asserted that he’d absorbed their music, though skeptics countered that there was no evidence he was even familiar with it. Parker himself clarified the issue for me one night in the winter of 1951, at New York’s premier modern jazz club, Birdland, at Broadway and Fifty-second Street. It was Saturday night, Parker’s quintet was the featured attraction, and he was in his prime, it seemed. I had a good table near the front, on the left side of the bandstand, below the piano. The house was almost full, even before the opening set...
January 29th, 2004
Look up pianist Joe Albany in the All Music Guide to Jazz and you will discover that during his career he associated with the likes of Benny Carter, Lester Young, Joe Venuti, Warne Marsh, and even Charlie Parker, and that eight of the albums recorded under his name in the United States and Europe between 1957 and 1982 are still in print. In the short biography accompanying Albany’s critical discography, the writer Scott Yanow touches briefly on his troubled life, his drug abuse, and his many wives, and concludes that given these circumstances, “…it is miraculous that he lived to almost reach 64.”...
November 11th, 2003
More than half a century after his bebop debut, and more than eleven years after his death, Miles Davis lives on. His music is used to pitch jeans, shape films, and personify an era. To this day, he is revered as the archetype of cool.
While several books have been written about Davis, including his own autobiography, due to his passion for reinvention and his extreme reticence the real story of Miles Davis has been obscured by the legend and widely misunderstood....
January 27th, 2003
The Ralph Ellison Project: Robert O’Meally, editor of Living With Music, discusses Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison
While Ralph Ellison will forever be best remembered as author of the classic American novel of identity, Invisible Man, he also contributed significant essays on jazz that stand as compelling testaments to his era. His work included an homage to Duke Ellington, stinging critiques of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and recognition of the changing-of-the-guard taking place at Harlem’s Minton’s in the 1940’s. He wrote on musical topics from flamenco to Charlie Christian, and from Jimmy Rushing to Mahalia Jackson....
August 20th, 2002