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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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