/arts-days/august/29

August 29

Charlie Parker

Decades after his untimely death at 34, “Bird” is still held up as one of the most influential and gifted musicians of all time.

Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-120471

1920: Rare Bird
Charlie Parker is born in Kansas City, Kansas
As a musician who could improvise jazz and blues music on the fly, Charlie “Bird” Parker has few equals. With his alto saxophone and his deep reservoir of talent, Parker thrilled listeners with his playing on tunes like “Ko-Ko” and “Billie’s Bounce.”

He was one of the leading developers of bebop, a jazz form featuring four or five musicians, fast tempos, and jagged-sounding, complex melodies. He also crafted new ways of playing long solos that shattered the usual conventions. For example, he experimented with creating melodies using higher intervals of a chord than had traditionally been played.
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