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Happy Birthday Charlie Parker!!!!!

1004 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  archcherub
This will be my work music for the whole day, today-----always a joy to hear Bird.
A BIG HEARTFELT THANK YOU FOR ALL HE DID.....and continues to do.

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Absolutely. I've heard criticisms of Parker from him having a thin sound to being a lick player in his last years. As for having a thin sound if you listen to his Now's the Time album it's anything but thin. As for his last years where do you go when you've already played everything that could be played in a given style of jazz. As someone once said even his worst solos were better than the best of his contemporaries. "Just Friends" is on of my favorites, that's for sure. Just beautiful. Parker is the inspiration that really made me want to play music and still is. I don't try to play like him because I think people should develop their own style and I don't have the kind of chops he had but then who does? I think the word genius is used far too freely and applied to far too many musicians, good as they may be, but in Parker's case it is absolutely true. For a few years I wouldn't even listen to anyone but Parker though of course I now listen to a lot of players but Parker was a true original in every sense of the word. He changed the course of jazz forever.
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Thin sound?! That's nuts.

A teacher told us a story about when he was playing with Woody Herman's 2nd herd and Bird came to play a show with them. They were rehearsing, and Bird had his foot up on a chair, alto on his knee, fiddling with his reed. Woody says, "Bird, I'll play a couple choruses just to get you into it," and the band members rolled their eyes about that. Woody plays a couple choruses into the mic, not a very strong player really, it was a writing challenge for the guys to write stuff he could actually play. Then Bird comes in, from where he was standing, and totally filled the theater with his sound. It was enormous.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Christopher Parker. Bird Lives!
Thin sound?! That's nuts.

A teacher told us a story about when he was playing with Woody Herman's 2nd herd and Bird came to play a show with them. They were rehearsing, and Bird had his foot up on a chair, alto on his knee, fiddling with his reed. Woody says, "Bird, I'll play a couple choruses just to get you into it," and the band members rolled their eyes about that. Woody plays a couple choruses into the mic, not a very strong player really, it was a writing challenge for the guys to write stuff he could actually play. Then Bird comes in, from where he was standing, and totally filled the theater with his sound. It was enormous.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Christopher Parker. Bird Lives!
I think the thin sound thing comes from some of the poor quality of some of the recordings of Parker, some of them on really archaic recording equipment. But when you hear one of his recordings done in a good recording studio you can tell he had a huge sound. Great story by the way. I wish I could have seen Parker live.
The term 'genius' has been overused, but it certainly applies to Charlie Parker. One of the greatest improvisors in the history of music.

HUGE, fat, beautiful tone, marvelous phrasing, highly melodic, and most of all, soulful blues-drenched playing!
Parker was the first jazz saxophonist I REALLY started listening to after being introduced to his music through my HS jazz band (we played a big band arrangement of Now's The Time, with part of his solo as a soli with the whole sax section). I'm sure that's cliche for an altoist, but he really casts that large of a shadow over the horn.

While it's not a GREAT movie and takes some liberties, I still enjoyed Bird.
Don't miss the annual Charlie Parker Birthday Marathon on WKCR 89.9 FM around the NY tri state or streaming live here:

https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/wkcr/

Bird Lives!!!!!
Charlie Parker's music changed a lot of lives, including mine. It's always a pleasure to revisit it.

Thin tone? I don't think so. It's true that Bird was criticized during his early years for having kind of harsh tone, but I think that was because people expected all alto players to be striving for that smooth, buttery Johnny Hodges sound, and Bird wasn't going for that. He needed something harder, more focused in order to play what he needed to play. And of course within a couple years just about every alto player had stopped trying to sound like Hodges and started emulating Bird, and Parker's tone was the thing to emulate.

Licks? Yes, Bird played licks. An incredible number and variety of them! I think I recall seeing somebody's masters thesis where all of the Bird's favorite licks were catalogued, and there were something like 150 of them. Which he could play in any key, at any tempo, with different articulations. If that's being a "licks player," we should aspire to it. Also, people who heard Parker live always remarked on his amazing ability to spontaneously weave in quotes of whatever melodies crossed his mind. Calling someone a "licks player" seems to imply that he was slavishly repeating patterns, but this was a guy who could quote from "The Rite of Spring" if Igor Stravinsky walked into the club.
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That's the thing that makes Bird truly special was his sheer KNOWLEDGE of music. His understanding of theory is absolutely mindboggling.
Happy birthday Charles Christopher Parker!
I love this guy. he inspires me to play.
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