Monday, March 12, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- BIRD LIVES

Charlie Parker (Bird) passed away in 1955 – 57 years ago TODAY.

ALSO - BIRD LIVES- is the title of Ross Russell's biography of Charlie Parker too.With few exceptions,Bird is a player you have to listen to and just enjoy because he was so great.

As for the music, Bird was in a league of his own. He didn't really play music, he intuited it from somewhere else. Someone once asked Bob Dylan how he wrote all those great classic songs, and he said they just came to him.WELL- Bird woodshedded to get the chops, and he was a technical master of the alto sax, but what he played didn't come from long hours of practice. He was his own influence.There are many things and thoughts here as well.

Take some time today- and this week and celebrate Charlie Parker.Also read Ross Russell's book on Bird- you have to! In his brief career, Charlie Parker transformed jazz, spontaneously extending the harmonic and rhythmic range of the music in his fluent improvisations. Only Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane have had as dramatic an influence on other musicians. Broadly considered as one of the greatest saxophonists of all time, he was crucial in the development of the bebop movement. Many of his compositions have become standards including "Billie’s Bounce", "Ornithology" and "Confirmation". Two of his albums, Jazz at Massey Hall and Charlie Parker with Strings, have received the Grammy Hall of Fame award.His playing was highly acclaimed during his lifetime and to me, he was the most inspirational and beautiful saxophonist ever. To me, Bird was a great blues player as well. He had a way of playing the blues that not only inspired thousands of saxophonists but helped many of us hear a newer way to be expressive on our horns.Be it emotionally or technically.

It reads like a fun, well-written novel, the main character of which is a fascinating and charming--musical genius. Parker was a man of vast appetites to match his gifts, and Ross Russell relates the offstage antics which were marked by chronic defiance: throwing his saxophone out of a hotel window, walking into the ocean wearing a new suit, standing up the promoter of a Paris jazz concert, eating twenty hamburgers at a sitting, riding a policeman's horse into a prominent Manhattan tavern, and accommodating the steady stream of women who threw themselves at him. Parker mastered his craft while a teenager.

Every record collection deserves " Bird with strings". I always loved the records where Bird was playing tenor with Miles as well. Something special about that music- a essence and grace that Bird had.

Half Nelson
Sippin At Bells
M. Davis (Tpt) C. Parker (Ten) John Lewis (P) Curley Russell (B) Max Roach (D) Aug 1947
Savoy S3440-42-43

Little Willie Leaps
Half Nelson
Sippin At Bells
M. Davis )Tpt) Charlie Parker (Ten) John Lewis (P) Nelson Boyd (bs) Max Roach (D)
S3440-41-43b Aug 1947

These recording are on the "Immortal Parker" set, 5 Vols and the Complete Savoy set.

ALSO- Phil Schaap's morning radio show "Bird Flight." He features the music of Charlie Parker every weekday from 8:20am till about 9:45am. I don't know where you're located, but internet call letters are If you're in the NYC area, it's WKCRfm, 89.9. Phil does do a very thorough job of presenting Bird's music.

A tribute Bird record I always loved was " Birds Night Out". A really well done memorial for Charlie Parker – cut with Cecil Payne on baritone sax, Phil Woods on alto, and the great Frank Socolow on tenor – all jamming on 4 of Bird's best known compositions! Burning and stretching out in freely creative lines and working here with a rhythm section that includes Duke Jordan on piano, Wendell Marshall on bass, and Art Taylor on drums. The album was recorded live at the Five Spot – and titles include "Parker's Mood", "Steeplechase", "Buzzy", and "Scrapple From The Apple". Woods is in classic high form, and Cecil sounds out of this world. One of the best Bird tributes- kind of hard to find but worth it.

At a point in a conversation with composer multi-instrumentalist/ film composer Gil Melle, Gil told me that Bird wanted to record with Edgard Varese. I can only imagine what that would of sounded like!


BIRD LIVES....Listen to Charlie Parker and enjoy his music.

Till next week- Tim Price

Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you.
Charlie Parker

I realized by using the high notes of the chords as a melodic line, and by the right harmonic progression, I could play what I heard inside me. That's when I was born.
Charlie Parker

If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn.
Charlie Parker

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art.
Charlie Parker

They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art.
Charlie Parker

You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
Charlie Parker

1 comment:

  1. Tim, wasn't Ross Russell the guy who contractually screwed Bird? i read the book long ago. Bird In Washington, when he sits in with a local big-band is some of his best live stuff. the cut on the changes to Pennies from Heaven is incomparable. Bird Lives!