He was the Birdman of the Alto Saxophone and almost a Mathematician he could load so many strokes in just one simple note……..
[Portrait of Charlie Parker, Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. Aug. 1947] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Sometimes during World War II some of the most fabulous Black gentlemen of Music emerged. They were unique, brilliant and astounding to the ear. They took Harlem and the world by storm! At the beginning of this Millennium, our Local Viewer Supported channel had a Trivia on who would be the most recognized person in the 20the Century. This trivia was for no money so when I found out that I had them right, including Muhammad Ali being considered the Best Athlete of the 20th Century, I knew that I was on to something. I went on to who were the most Popular and beloved Jazz Musicians and with pen in hand I started with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman (big Band), Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and whatever completed the 10 persons and I went on to find that I had all of those correct as well. I’m observant and I adore music. My love for real music considered jazz or Bee Bop or just simply good started with a man by the name of Charles “Yardbird” Parker.
My older siblings had his music and to me and my younger sister, we dreamed while this music played. I could have been six and she was about four and yet when our Daddy went to work, our older siblings went to work and our Mother busied herself in the living room, we would sneak and play his music, careful not to scratch the 78. This dates me I am sure but that’s what we had and I don’t believe that over 50 years later we will have the CD but the 78s that are in our family are standing the test of time!
Mr. Parker did not like the labels of Jazz or Bee Bop because those labels seemed confining. He had a love for the Classical music giants and often said so. Since his music was more on the order of Jazz however, he had strings added to his music and this made his music paramount to a Red Carpet walk as he played, adding to the beauty and the drama. This man died about a year after we fell in love with him because in those days, Musicians felt that Heroine was a right of passage, was an elite and expensive drug and sorrowfully damaged the insides of these brilliant men, just as the drugs of today will do. Mr. Parker’s brilliance and those of so many are left for me to enjoy because they did define music and a mood of music that I took all through my life. I think this man deserves so much credit for his brilliance. Peace and listen on….