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The story goes that Bird's playing transformed while he locked himself away in a "shed". If this is true, what did he practice and listen to? Does anyone know the real story or where to find it?
 

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The Omnibook of course! :)

Great topic BTW!
 

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I seem to recall (perhaps from Ross Russell's book "Bird Lives") that much of what he practiced during that period was blues and "Rhythm Changes" in all keys. As for what specific material he was practicing, I don't know. He was hearing lots of Lester Young, Hershel Evans and Buster Smith, who were playing nightly in Kansas City with Basie's band, so he may have been copping material from those guys.
 

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Learning solos (Lester Young especially) working on changes (blues, Rhythm), scales, arpeggios, and ornamentations.

Obviously a LOT of licks and turnaround phrases as well as learning melodies from popular and classical music.

Basically, everything having to do with melody, harmony, and the technique that goes into executing it flawlessly.
 

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Bird at 20 years old. Honeysuckle Rose and Body and Soul.

As for what Bird practiced, my best guess is TUNES. No band, no metronome here. Dig that time, feel. He's in total control. Heavier swing language though.

Bird is still 100 years ahead of everybody.


Quotes Lester here. They say Bird was playing a Holton during the Mcshann years... I'm going to buy a Holton. What a sound.


Early version of Cherokee. You can hear alot of the rough ideas that later became Ko Ko, he thouroghly learned HIS language on the horn, and that language was rooted in the solid ground of Lester. But more importantly the QUOTES he's laying down. At 23 to integrate quotes so effortlessly.


At 30.

 

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Parker practiced with one or both of these two books. http://www.runyonproducts.com/dyn.etudes.html and http://www.runyonproducts.com/mod.etudes.html
I have read somewhere that some of the passages form one of the books, can be heard in Parkers solos, so it is likely they were part of his shedding.
Besides, Parker and Sonny Stitt helped proof-read the second book.
It would be interesting to hear comments from someone who has used these books.
He says here, in Paul Desmonds interview with Parker, http://www.puredesmond.ca/pdbird.htm that it was all done with books, like the Klose book http://www.amazon.com/O1718-25-Daily-Exercises-Saxophone/dp/0825811511
I think that should keep the OP occupied for a few months. :bluewink:
It might also be this book http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?30637-H-klose-(not-the-25-dailys)
 

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Hey dave, thanks a million for posting those clips.
 

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The story goes that Bird's playing transformed while he locked himself away in a "shed". If this is true, what did he practice and listen to? Does anyone know the real story or where to find it?
Find it? The 'shed'? The term is derived from 'woodshed' which was a small out-building used to keep the fireplace/stove wood dry. In the old days, guys might sometimes be told to 'Take that noise out to the shed', so the term 'woodshedding' means practice, sometimes intensive practice, and the short form would just be 'shed' or 'shedding'. However, the whole thing is most likely metaphorical. Bird probably practiced in the heated house during the winter and I doubt if he ever spent much time in an actual shed except possibly in his very early years. In short, to 'shed' just means 'to practice'.
 

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I think it is very often underestimated just how huge an influence Duke Ellington was on the bebop pioneers, including Bird. In addition to the music itself, although his orchestra was a swing band that played for dances, Ellington basically created the idea the that there could be serious African American music played by genius players for critical listeners.

I think Bird listened to tons of Duke Ellington!
 

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Find it? The 'shed'? The term is derived from 'woodshed' which was a small out-building used to keep the fireplace/stove wood dry. In the old days, guys might sometimes be told to 'Take that noise out to the shed', so the term 'woodshedding' means practice, sometimes intensive practice, and the short form would just be 'shed' or 'shedding'. However, the whole thing is most likely metaphorical. Bird probably practiced in the heated house during the winter and I doubt if he ever spent much time in an actual shed except possibly in his very early years. In short, to 'shed' just means 'to practice'.
I guess by "it" he meant the story, not the shed.
 

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Parker practiced with one or both of these two books. http://www.runyonproducts.com/dyn.etudes.html and http://www.runyonproducts.com/mod.etudes.html
I have read somewhere that some of the passages form one of the books, can be heard in Parkers solos, so it is likely they were part of his shedding.
Besides, Parker and Sonny Stitt helped proof-read the second book.
It would be interesting to hear comments from someone who has used these books.
He says here, in Paul Desmonds interview with Parker, http://www.puredesmond.ca/pdbird.htm that it was all done with books, like the Klose book http://www.amazon.com/O1718-25-Daily-Exercises-Saxophone/dp/0825811511
I think that should keep the OP occupied for a few months. :bluewink:
It might also be this book http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?30637-H-klose-(not-the-25-dailys)
Don't buy the klosé book. It's public material and can be found on the internet for free. I don't want to put those books down but this is not the magic ingredient to parkers playing. Because I suspect there is not magic ingredient, he just learned from the things that he could learn from and any other person who might have done the same thing would probably end up in an entire different way.
 

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Ellington basically created the idea the that there could be serious African American music played by genius players for critical listeners.
J.R.M. would disagree.
 

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J.R.M. would disagree.
Well sure he would...Jelly Roll claimed to be responsible for everything.

Nonetheless, the contrast is illuminating. In the early 1940s, while Jelly Roll was living in squalor, dying from a stab wound, and making exactly zero money for all his musical achievements, Duke Ellington was dominating the music industry, running his own music publishing company, and preparing to open Black, Brown, and Beige at Carnegie Hall.

In retrospect, we consider Jelly Roll Morton an "artist" and a "genius." Duke Ellington is largely responsible for making that retrospective vision possible. This is why Cecil Taylor refers to Ellington as "the only prophet I recognize."
 

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Don't buy the klosé book. It's public material and can be found on the internet for free. I don't want to put those books down but this is not the magic ingredient to parkers playing. Because I suspect there is not magic ingredient, he just learned from the things that he could learn from and any other person who might have done the same thing would probably end up in an entire different way.
Read the Desmond interview. Parker got his technique from books and a whole lot of practicing. The OP asked: "what did he practice" and I gave some educated clues in my comment. The OP asked "What did he listen to" and several other SOTW's gave some educated guesses. The OP did not ask for "the magic ingredient".
Re: the Santy Runyon books, Paul Coats writes: "Two books, Dynamic Etudes, and Modern Etudes, by Santy Runyon. These were the books such players as Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt studied from at the Runyon Studio in Chicago. They are, in fact, credited for proof reading the material. Parker used one study from Dynamic Etudes as the basis of his "Ornithology"."
See: http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/Technique_Development.html
 

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The story goes that Bird's playing transformed while he locked himself away in a "shed". If this is true, what did he practice and listen to? Does anyone know the real story or where to find it?
Parker is known to have made a breakthrough as a player during an intensive summer of practicing at a resort in the Ozarks where he had a playing gig in 1937. Go to google books, find a book called Yardbird Suite, and some details can be found on page 18.

Whatever books he may have specifically practiced from, it is safe to say that the published jazz materials available at that time would pale into insignificance in quality and quantity compared to what is available today. On the other hand, the opportunity for intensive hands-on instruction with older musicians was probably much greater then.
 

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Parker is known to have made a breakthrough as a player during an intensive summer of practicing at a resort in the Ozarks where he had a playing gig in 1937.
Finally! I was just reading through a lot of speculation and getting ready to post this myself when I came to the end of the line and here you were. If anyone is looking for one period of intense practice in his early development, I believe this is the source. It was in cabins and on the stage at this resort - not in a shed. :)

That's not to say that he didn't play Klose and other books, but I believe much of that came later. When he was younger, he played tunes and studied Lester Young. Also - I'm not aware of a major influence in his early development by Duke Ellington, so would love a source on that.
 

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He apparently lived with his mother when he did the shedding with books:
"PD: Another thing that's been a major factor in your playing is this fantastic technique, that nobody's quite equaled. I've always wondered about that, too ... whether there was ... whether that came behind practicing or whether that was just from playing, whether it evolved gradually.

CP: Well,you make it so hard for me to answer, you know, because I can't see where there's anything fantastic about it all. I put quite a bit of study into the horn, that's true. In fact the neighbors threatened to ask my mother to move once when we were living out West. She said I was driving them crazy with the horn. I used to put in at least 11 -- 11 to 15 hours a day.

PD: Yes, that's what I wondered.

CP: That's true, yes. I did that for overa period of 3 to 4 years.

PD: Oh, yeah. I guess that's the answer.

CP: Well, that's the facts anyway. (chuckle)

PD: I heard a record of yours a couple of months ago that somehow I've missed up to date, and I heard a little two-bar quote from the Klose book that was like an echo from home ...[Desmond scats the quote.]

CP: Yeah, yeah. Well that was all done with books, you know. Naturally, it wasn't done with mirrors, this time it was done with books."
(PD = Paul Desmond and CP = Charlie parker)
 

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Read the Desmond interview. Parker got his technique from books and a whole lot of practicing. The OP asked: "what did he practice" and I gave some educated clues in my comment. The OP asked "What did he listen to" and several other SOTW's gave some educated guesses. The OP did not ask for "the magic ingredient".
Re: the Santy Runyon books, Paul Coats writes: "Two books, Dynamic Etudes, and Modern Etudes, by Santy Runyon. These were the books such players as Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt studied from at the Runyon Studio in Chicago. They are, in fact, credited for proof reading the material. Parker used one study from Dynamic Etudes as the basis of his "Ornithology"."
See: http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/Technique_Development.html
Yes of course you get great technique from stuff like that but it's not just his technique. His creativity matches and surpasses his technique, it's not empty noodling thats my point.

Those books wont make you play like them
 

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Yes of course you get great technique from stuff like that but it's not just his technique. His creativity matches and surpasses his technique, it's not empty noodling thats my point.

Those books wont make you play like them
I completely agree :)
 

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Peter, about the passage you quoted about Bird practicing at home and then his comment on Klose, I'm not sure that his answer to Paul regarding having practiced out of Klose book implies that he meant he was doing that during the intense period at his mothers that he had just mentioned in the interview. I have heard that interview a number of times, and it always sounded to me that these two comments were not related.
 
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