Thursday, December 06, 2007

Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1920. He was known as Yardbird, which would later be shortened to Bird, and was one of the greatest saxophonists and jazz players of the 1940’s. He first came in contact with music in school where he played baritone horn. From 1935 to 1939, he developed his art with local bands in Kansas City, Missouri.

However, it was in 1939 that he would really start his musical career. In New York, he began to play a new kind of jazz named bebop together with other musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Christian. This new style was badly considered by many older jazz musicians, the moldy figs, as they were called by the young beboppers. At the same time, Parker was part of the McShann’s band with which he recorded several songs such as Hootie Blues or Confessing the Blues.

The year 1945 was a turning point in his career. Indeed, he led his own group in New York and later moved to Hollywood. He played there until 1946 when he had to spend six months in a psychiatric hospital due to a nervous breakdown. His mental health was weak as a result of his life-long drug addiction.

He left the hospital in better shape and started playing again in nightclubs. He also recorded several of his most popular songs which would help him become far more famous at the beginning of the 50’s. However, his self-destructive behaviour would soon catch up with him and lead to an untimely death in 1955.

Still considered today as one of the most important jazz musicians in history, people have often paid tribute to him. For example, he received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1984 and a movie, Bird, was released in 1988. Although sadly notorious for his addictions, he left his imprint on jazz and continues to be an incredible source of inspiration in the world of art more than fifty years later.

In the following video you can see Parker and Dizzy Gillespie performing Hot House :

Elodie & Bruno

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