Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Charlie Parker Became "Bird!"

“How do you do that?” young Charlie Parker would ask older musicians. “Would you please do that again?” Those who know jazz, or who only know of jazz greats such as the man many have known simply as “Bird,” might have trouble imagining those questions coming from Parker. The standard mythology of Bird-ology holds that Charlie Parker discovered a whole new way of playing all by himself that changed the game of jazz instantly. Like a bolt from the blue, Parker struck like Kansas City lightning. Stanley Crouch’s Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker, the first of a proposed two-part biography of the saxophonist, brings the lightning and the thunder, but more importantly explains where the force of nature Parker became came from. Starting with the thriving Kansas City jazz scene of the first third of the 20th century and concluding with Parker’s artistic arrival in New York City, Crouch paints a biographical portrait of the troubled artist against the larger musical, cultural, and historical landscapes of the times. In the end, you’ll find that Bird, the quintessentially original artist, grew from a set of long traditions that both kept him grounded and gave him the wings to fly. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Charlie Parker Became 'Bird!'"

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