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Charlie Parker
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Background information
Birth name Charles Parker, Jr.
Also known as Bird, Yardbird,
Zoizeau (in France)
Born August 29, 1920
Kansas City, Kansas, United States
Died March 12, 1955 (aged 34)
New York City, New York, United States
Genres Jazz, bebop
Occupations Saxophonist, Composer
Instruments Alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Years active 1937–1955
Labels Savoy, Dial, Verve
Associated acts Miles Davis, Max Roach
Notable instruments
Buescher, Conn, King and Grafton alto saxophones

Charles Parker, Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

Parker acquired the nickname "Yardbird" early in his career and the shortened form, "Bird", which continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspired the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as "Yardbird Suite", "Ornithology", "Bird Gets the Worm", and "Bird of Paradise."

Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. Parker introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions. His tone ranged from clean and penetrating to sweet and somber. Many Parker recordings demonstrate virtuosic technique and complex melodic lines, sometimes combining jazz with other musical genres, including blues, Latin, and classical.

Parker was an icon for the hipster subculture and later the Beat Generation, personifying the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual, rather than an entertainer.


Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, the only child of Charles and Addie Parker. Parker attended Lincoln High School. He enrolled in September 1934 and withdrew in December 1935, just before joining the local Musicians Union.

Parker began playing the saxophone at age 11, and at age 14 joined his school's band using a rented school instrument. His father, Charles, was often absent but provided some musical influence; he was a pianist, dancer and singer on the T.O.B.A. circuit. He later became a Pullman waiter or chef on the railways. Parker's mother Addie worked nights at the local Western Union office. His biggest influence at that time was a young trombone player who taught him the basics of improvisation.

Early career

In the late 1930s Parker began to practice diligently. During this period he mastered improvisation and developed some of the ideas that led to bebop. In an interview with Paul Desmond, he said that he spent 3–4 years practicing up to 15 hours a day.

Bands led by Count Basie and Bennie Moten undoubtedly influenced Parker. He played with local bands in jazz clubs around Kansas City, Missouri, where he perfected his technique, with the assistance of Buster Smith, whose dynamic transitions to double and triple time influenced Parker's developing style.

In 1938, Parker joined pianist Jay McShann's territory band. The band toured nightclubs and other venues of the southwest, as well as Chicago and New York City. Parker made his professional recording debut with McShann's band.

As a teenager, Parker developed a morphine addiction while in the hospital, after an automobile accident, and subsequently became addicted to heroin. He continued using heroin throughout his life, which ultimately contributed to his death.
New York City

In 1939 Parker moved to New York City, to pursue a career in music. He held several other jobs as well. He worked for nine dollars a week as a dishwasher at Jimmie's Chicken Shack, where pianist Art Tatum performed[citation needed]

In 1942 Parker left McShann's band and played with Earl Hines for one year, whose band included Dizzy Gillespie, who later played with Parker as a duo. Unfortunately, this period is virtually undocumented, due to the strike of 1942–1943 by the American Federation of Musicians, during which time few recordings were made. Parker joined a group of young musicians, and played in after-hours clubs in Harlem, such as Clark Monroe's Uptown House and Minton's Playhouse. These young iconoclasts included Gillespie, pianist Thelonious Monk, guitarist Charlie Christian, and drummer Kenny Clarke. The beboppers' attitude was summed up in a famous quotation attributed to Monk by Mary Lou Williams: "We wanted a music that they couldn't play" – "they" being the white bandleaders who had usurped and profited from swing music. The group played in venues on 52nd Street, including Three Deuces and The Onyx. While in New York City, Parker studied with his music teacher, Maury Deutsch.

According to an interview Parker gave in the 1950s, one night in 1939, he was playing "Cherokee" in a jam session with guitarist William "Biddy" Fleet when he hit upon a method for developing his solos that enabled one of his main musical innovations. He realized that the twelve tones of the chromatic scale can lead melodically to any key, breaking some of the confines of simpler jazz soloing.

Early in its development, this new type of jazz was rejected by many of the established, traditional jazz musicians who disdained their younger counterparts. The beboppers responded by calling these traditionalists "moldy figs". However, some musicians, such as Coleman Hawkins and Benny Goodman, were more positive about its development, and participated in jam sessions and recording dates in the new approach with its adherents.

Because of the two-year Musicians' Union ban of all commercial recordings from 1942 to 1944, much of bebop's early development was not captured for posterity. As a result, it gained limited radio exposure. Bebop musicians had a difficult time gaining widespread recognition. It was not until 1945, when the recording ban was lifted, that Parker's collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Bud Powell and others had a substantial effect on the jazz world. One of their first (and greatest) small-group performances together was rediscovered and issued in 2005: a concert in New York's Town Hall on June 22, 1945. Bebop soon gained wider appeal among musicians and fans alike.

On November 26, 1945, Parker led a record date for the Savoy label, marketed as the "greatest Jazz session ever." The tracks recorded during this session include "Ko-Ko" and "Now's the Time".

Shortly afterwards, the Parker/Gillespie band traveled to an unsuccessful engagement at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles. Most of the group returned to New York, but Parker remained in California, cashing in his return ticket to buy heroin. He experienced great hardship in California, eventually being committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital for a six-month period.

Parker's chronic addiction to heroin caused him to miss gigs and lose work. He frequently resorted to busking on the streets, receiving loans from fellow musicians and admirers, and pawning his saxophones for drug money. Heroin use was rampant in the jazz scene and the drug could be acquired easily.

Although he produced many brilliant recordings during this period, Parker's behavior became increasingly erratic. Heroin was difficult to obtain when he moved to California, where the drug was less abundant, and Parker began to drink heavily to compensate for it. A recording for the Dial label from July 29, 1946, provides evidence of his condition. Prior to this session, Parker drank a quart of whiskey. According to the liner notes of Charlie Parker on Dial Volume 1, Parker missed most of the first two bars of his first chorus on the track, "Max Making Wax." When he finally did come in, he swayed wildly and once spun all the way around, away from his microphone. On the next tune, "Lover Man", producer Ross Russell physically supported Parker. On "Bebop" (the final track Parker recorded that evening) he begins a solo with a solid first eight bars. On his second eight bars, however, Parker begins to struggle, and a desperate Howard McGhee, the trumpeter on this session, shouts, "Blow!" at Parker. Charles Mingus considered this version of "Lover Man" to be among Parker's greatest recordings, despite its flaws. Nevertheless, Parker hated the recording and never forgave Ross Russell for releasing it. He re-recorded the tune in 1951 for Verve.

When Parker was released from the hospital, he was clean and healthy, and proceeded to do some of the best playing and recording of his career. He converted to Islam in the manner of the Ahmadiyya movement in the US.[12] Before leaving California, he recorded "Relaxin' at Camarillo", in reference to his hospital stay. He returned to New York, resumed his addiction to heroin and recorded dozens of sides for the Savoy and Dial labels, which remain some of the high points of his recorded output. Many of these were with his so-called "classic quintet" including trumpeter Miles Davis and drummer Max Roach.
Charlie Parker with Strings

A longstanding desire of Parker's was to perform with a string section. He was a keen student of classical music, and contemporaries reported he was most interested in the music and formal innovations of Igor Stravinsky and longed to engage in a project akin to what later became known as Third Stream, a new kind of music, incorporating both jazz and classical elements as opposed to merely incorporating a string section into performance of jazz standards.

On November 30, 1949, Norman Granz arranged for Parker to record an album of ballads with a mixed group of jazz and chamber orchestra musicians. Six master takes from this session comprised the album Charlie Parker with Strings: "Just Friends", "Everything Happens to Me", "April in Paris", "Summertime", "I Didn't Know What Time It Was", and "If I Should Lose You". The sound of these recordings is rare in Parker's catalog. Parker's improvisations are, in comparison to his usual work, more distilled and economical. His tone is darker and softer than on his small-group recordings, and the majority of his lines are beautiful embellishments on the original melodies rather than harmonically based improvisations. These are among the few recordings Parker made during a brief period when he was able to control his heroin habit, and his sobriety and clarity of mind are evident in his playing. Parker stated that, of his own records, Bird With Strings was his favorite. Although using classical music instrumentation with jazz musicians was not entirely original, this was the first major work where a composer of bebop was matched with a string orchestra.
Jazz at Massey Hall

In 1953, Parker performed at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada, joined by Gillespie, Mingus, Bud Powell and Max Roach. Unfortunately, the concert clashed with a televised heavyweight boxing match between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott, so was poorly attended. Mingus recorded the concert, resulting in the album Jazz at Massey Hall. At this concert, he played a plastic Grafton saxophone[citation needed]. At this point in his career he was experimenting with new sounds and materials. Parker himself explained the purpose of the plastic saxophone in a May 9, 1953 broadcast from Birdland and does so again in subsequent May 1953 broadcast.

Parker is known to have played several saxophones, including the Conn 6M, The Martin Handicraft and Selmer Model 22. Parker is also known to have performed with a King "Super 20" saxophone. Parker's King Super 20 saxophone was made specially for him in 1947.


Parker died in the suite of his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City while watching The Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show on television. The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker's 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.

Parker had been living since 1950 with Chan Richardson, the mother of his son Baird and his daughter Pree (who died as an infant of cystic fibrosis). He considered Chan his wife; however he never formally married her, nor did he divorce his previous wife, Doris (whom he had married in 1948). This complicated the settling of Parker's inheritance and would ultimately serve to frustrate his wish to be quietly interred in New York City.

It was well known that Parker never wanted to return to Kansas City, even in death. Parker had told Chan that he did not want to be buried in the city of his birth; that New York was his home. Dizzy Gillespie paid for the funeral arrangements and organized a lying-in-state, a Harlem procession officiated by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., as well as a memorial concert, before Parker's body was flown back to Missouri, in accordance with his mother's wishes. Parker's widow criticized Parker’s family for giving him a Christian funeral even though they knew he was a confirmed atheist. Parker was buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Missouri, in a hamlet known as Blue Summit.

Parker's estate is managed by CMG Worldwide.

Parker's style of composition involved interpolation of original melodies over pre-existing jazz forms and standards, a practice still common in jazz today. Examples include "Ornithology" ("How High The Moon") and "Yardbird Suite", the vocal version of which is called "What Price Love", with lyrics by Parker. The practice was not uncommon prior to bebop; however, it became a signature of the movement as artists began to move away from arranging popular standards and compose their own material.

While tunes such as "Now's The Time", "Billie's Bounce", and "Cool Blues" were based on conventional twelve-bar blues changes, Parker also created a unique version of the 12-bar blues for his tune "Blues for Alice". These unique chords are known popularly as "Bird Changes". Like his solos, some of his compositions are characterized by long, complex melodic lines and a minimum of repetition although he did employ the use of repetition in some tunes, most notably "Now's The Time".

Parker contributed greatly to the modern jazz solo, one in which triplets and pick-up notes were used in unorthodox ways to lead into chord tones, affording the soloist with more freedom to use passing tones, which soloists previously avoided. Parker was admired for his unique style of phrasing and innovative use of rhythm. Via his recordings and the popularity of the posthumously published Charlie Parker Omnibook, Parker's uniquely identifiable style dominated jazz for many years to come.
Savoy Records


The Immortal Charlie Parker
Bird: Master Takes


Dizzy Gillespie - Groovin' High
The Genius Of Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker Story
Charlie Parker Memorial, Vol. 2


Charlie Parker Memorial, Vol. 1


Bird At The Roost, Vol. 1
Newly Discovered Sides By Charlie Parker
The 'Bird' Returns


Bird At The Roost, Vol. 2
Bird At The Roost


An Evening At Home With Charlie Parker Sextet

Dial Records


Red Norvo's Fabulous Jam Session


Alternate Masters, Vol. 2


The Bird Blows The Blues
Cool Blues c/w Bird's Nest
Alternate Masters, Vol. 1
Crazeology c/w Crazeology, II: 3 Ways Of Playing A Chorus
Charlie Parker, Vol. 4

Verve Records


Jazz At The Philharmonic, Vol. 2
Jazz At The Philharmonic, Vol. 4


Various Artists - Potpourri Of Jazz
The Charlie Parker Story, #1


The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #7 - Jazz Perennial
Jazz At The Philharmonic, Vol. 7
Jazz At The Philharmonic - The Ella Fitzgerald Set
The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve - Bird


The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #4 - Bird And Diz
The Charlie Parker Story, #3


The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #8 - Swedish Schnapps
The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #6 - Fiesta


The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #3 - Now's The Time


The Quartet Of Charlie Parker


The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #5 - Charlie Parker Plays Cole Porter



Bird's Eyes, Vol. 1 (Philology)
Charlie Parker With Jay McShann And His Orchestra - Early Bird (Stash)
Jay McShann Orchestra Featuring Charlie Parker - Early Bird (Spotlight)


Jay McShann - The Early Bird Charlie Parker, 1941-1943: Jazz Heritage Series (MCA)
The Complete Birth Of The Bebop (Stash)


Birth Of The Bebop: Bird On Tenor 1943 (Stash)


Every Bit Of It 1945 (Spotlight)
Charlie Parker, Vol. 3 Young Bird 1945 (Masters of Jazz)
Dizzy Gillespie - In The Beginning (Prestige)
Bird's Eyes, Vol. 17 (Philology)
Charlie Parker On Dial, Vol. 5 (Spotlight)
Red Norvo's Fabulous Jam Session (Spotlight)
Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker - Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945 (Uptown)
Bird's Eyes, Vol. 4 (Philology)
Yardbird In Lotus Land (Spotlight)


Rappin' With Bird (Meexa)
Jazz At The Philharmonic - How High The Moon (Mercury)
Charlie Parker On Dial, Vol. 1 (Spotlight)


The Legendary Dial Masters, Vol. 2 (Stash)
Various Artists - Lullaby In Rhythm (Spotlight)
Charlie Parker On Dial, Vol. 2 (Spotlight)
Charlie Parker On Dial, Vol. 3 (Spotlight)
Charlie Parker On Dial, Vol. 4 (Spotlight)
Various Artists - Anthropology (Spotlight)
Allen Eager - In The Land Of Oo-Bla-Dee 1947-1953 (Uptown)
Charlie Parker On Dial, Vol. 6 (Spotlight)
Various Artists - The Jazz Scene (Clef)


Gene Roland Band Featuring Charlie Parker - The Band That Never Was (Spotlight)
Bird's Eyes, Vol. 6 (Philology)
Bird on 52nd St. (Jazz Workshop)
Charlie Parker (Prestige)
Charlie Parker - Live Performances (ESP)
Charlie Parker On The Air, Vol. 1 (Everest)


Charlie Parker - Broadcast Performances, Vol. 2 (ESP)
The Metronome All Stars - From Swing To Be-Bop (RCA Camden)
Jazz At The Philharmonic - J.A.T.P. At Carnegie Hall 1949 (Pablo)
Rara Avis Avis, Rare Bird (Stash)
Various Artists - Alto Saxes (Norgran)
Bird On The Road (Jazz Showcase)
Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie - Bird And Diz (Universal (Japan))
Charlie Parker - Bird In Paris (Bird in Paris)
Charlie Parker In France 1949 (Jazz O.P. (France))
Charlie Parker - Bird Box, Vol. 2 (Jazz Up (Italy))
Bird's Eyes, Vol. 5 (Philology)
Charlie Parker with Strings (Clef)
Bird's Eyes, Vol. 2 (Philology)
Bird's Eyes, Vol. 3 (Philology)
Dance Of The Infidels (S.C.A.M.)


Charlie Parker Live Birdland 1950 (EPM Musique (F) FDC 5710)
Charlie Parker - Bird At St. Nick's (Jazz Workshop JWS 500)
Charlie Parker At The Apollo Theater And St. Nick's Arena (Zim ZM 1007)
Charlie Parker - Bird's Eyes, Vol. 15 (Philology (It) W 845-2)
Charlie Parker - Fats Navarro - Bud Powell (Ozone 4)
Charlie Parker - One Night In Birdland (Columbia JG 34808)
Charlie Parker - Bud Powell - Fats Navarro (Ozone 9)
Charlie Parker - Just Friends (S.C.A.M. JPG 4)
Charlie Parker - Apartment Jam Sessions (Zim ZM 1006)
V.A. - Our Best (Clef MGC 639)
The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #4 - Bird And Diz (Verve MGV 8006)
The Persuasively Coherent Miles Davis (Alto AL 701)
Charlie Parker - Ultimate Bird 1949-50 (Grotto 495)
Charlie Parker - Ballads And Birdland (Klacto (E) MG 101)
Charlie Parker Big Band (Mercury MGC 609)
Charlie Parker - Parker Plus Strings (Charlie Parker PLP 513)
Charlie Parker - Bird With Strings Live At The Apollo, Carnegie Hall And Birdland (Columbia JC 34832)
Charlie Parker - The Bird You Never Heard (Stash STCD 10)
Norman Granz Jazz Concert (Norgran MGN 3501-2)
Charlie Parker At The Pershing Ballroom Chicago 1950 (Zim ZM 1003)
The Charlie Parker Story, #3 (Verve MGV 8002)
Charlie Parker - Bird In Sweden (Spotlite (E) SPJ 124/25)
Charlie Parker - More Unissued, Vol. 2 (Royal Jazz (D) RJD 506)
Machito - Afro-Cuban Jazz (Clef MGC 689)
An Evening At Home With Charlie Parker Sextet (Savoy MG 12152)


The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #8 - Swedish Schnapps (Verve MGV 8010)
The Magnificent Charlie Parker (Clef MGC 646)
The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #6 - Fiesta (Verve MGV 8008)
Charlie Parker - Summit Meeting At Birdland (Columbia JC 34831)
Charlie Parker - Bird Meets Birks (Klacto (E) MG 102)
Charlie Parker - The Happy "Bird" (Charlie Parker PLP 404)
Charlie Parker Live Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn 1951 (EPM Musique (F) FDC 5711)
Charlie Parker - Bird With The Herd 1951 (Alamac QSR 2442)
Charlie Parker - More Unissued, Vol. 1 (Royal Jazz (D) RJD 505)


Charlie Parker - New Bird, Vol. 2 (Phoenix LP 12)
Charlie Parker/Sonny Criss/Chet Baker - Inglewood Jam 6-16-'52 (Jazz Chronicles JCS 102)
Norman Granz' Jam Session, #1 (Mercury MGC 601)
Norman Granz' Jam Session, #2 (Mercury MGC 602)
Charlie Parker Live At Rockland Palace (Charlie Parker PLP 502)
Charlie Parker - Cheers (S.C.A.M. JPG 2)
The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #3 - Now's The Time (Verve MGV 8005)


Miles Davis - Collector's Items (Prestige PRLP 7044)
Charlie Parker - Montreal 1953 (Uptown UP 27.36)
Charlie Parker/Miles Davis/Dizzy Gillespie - Bird With Miles And Dizzy (Queen Disc (It) Q-002)
Charlie Parker - One Night In Washington (Elektra/Musician E1 60019)
Charlie Parker - Yardbird-DC-53 (VGM 0009)
Charlie Parker At Storyville (Blue Note BT 85108)
Charlie Parker - Star Eyes (Klacto (E) MG 100)
Charles Mingus - The Complete Debut Recordings (Debut 12DCD 4402-2)
The Quintet - Jazz At Massey Hall, Vol. 1 (Debut DLP 2)
The Quintet - Jazz At Massey Hall (Debut DEB 124)
Charlie Parker - Bird Meets Birks (Mark Gardner (E) MG 102)
Bud Powell - Summer Broadcasts 1953 (ESP-Disk' ESP 3023)
Charlie Parker - New Bird: Hi Hat Broadcasts 1953 (Phoenix LP 10)
The Quartet Of Charlie Parker (Verve 825 671-2)


Hi-Hat All Stars, Guest Artists, Charlie Parker (Fresh Sound (Sp) FSR 303)
Charlie Parker - Kenton And Bird (Jazz Supreme JS 703)
The Genius Of Charlie Parker, #5 - Charlie Parker Plays Cole Porter (Verve MGV 8007)
Charlie Parker - Miles Davis - Lee Konitz (Ozone 2)
V.A. - Echoes Of An Era: The Birdland All Stars Live At Carnegie Hall (Roulette RE 127)

Live recordings

Live at Townhall w. Dizzy (1945)
Yardbird in Lotus Land (1945)
Bird and Pres (1946) (Verve)
Jazz at the Philharmonic (1946) (Polygram)
Rapping with Bird (1946-1951)
Bird and Diz at Carnegie Hall (1947) (Blue Note)
The Complete Savoy Live Performances (1947–1950)
Bird on 52nd Street (1948)
The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings (1948–1951) (7 cds)
Jazz at the Philharmonic (1949) (Verve)
Charlie Parker and the Stars of Modern Jazz at Carnegie Hall (1949) (Jass)
Bird in Paris (1949)
Bird in France (1949)
Charlie Parker All Stars Live at the Royal Roost (1949)
One Night in Birdland (1950) (Columbia)
Bird at St. Nick's (1950)
Bird at the Apollo Theatre and St. Nicklas Arena (1950)
Apartment Jam Sessions (1950)
Charlie Parker at the Pershing Ballroom Chicago 1950 (1950)
Bird in Sweden (1950) (Storyville)
Happy Bird (1951)
Summit Meeting at Birdland (1951) (Columbia)
Live at Rockland Palace (1952)
Jam Session (1952) (Polygram)
At Jirayr Zorthian's Ranch, July 14, 1952 (1952) (Rare Live Recordings)
The Complete Legendary Rockland Palace Concert (1952)
Charlie Parker: Montreal 1953 (1953)
One Night in Washington (1953) (VGM)
Bird at the High Hat (1953) (Blue Note)
Charlie Parker at Storyville (1953)
Jazz at Massey Hall aka.The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever (1953)


"Au Privave"
"An Oscar for Treadwell"
"Another Hairdo"
"Back Home Blues"
"Billie's Bounce"
"Bird Gets the Worm"
"Bird of Paradise"
"Blue Bird"
"Blues (Fast)"
"Blues for Alice"
"Card Board"
"Chasing the Bird"

"Chi Chi"
"Cosmic Rays"
"Dewey Square"
"Donna Lee" (with Miles Davis)
"K.C. Blues"
"Klaun Stance"
"Laird Baird"
"Leap Frog"
"Moose the Mooche"
"My Little Suede Shoes"
"Now’s the time"

"Parker's Mood"
"Red Cross"
"Relaxing with Lee"
"Scrapple from the Apple"
"Shawnuff" (with Dizzy Gillespie)
"She Rote"
"Si Si"
"The Bird"
"Thriving from a Riff"
"Warming Up a Riff"
"Yardbird Suite"

Awards and recognitions

Grammy Award

Charlie Parker Grammy Award History
Year Category Title Genre Label Result
1974 Best Performance By A Soloist First Recordings! Jazz Onyx Winner

Grammy Hall of Fame

Recordings of Charlie Parker were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."
Charlie Parker: Grammy Hall of Fame Awards[18]
Year Recorded Title Genre Label Year Inducted
1945 "Billie's Bounce" Jazz (Single) Savoy 2002
1953 Jazz at Massey Hall Jazz (Album) Debut 1995
1946 "Ornithology" Jazz (Single) Dial 1989
1950 Charlie Parker with Strings Jazz (Album) Mercury 1988


Year Inducted Title
2004 Jazz at Lincoln Center: Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame
1984 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
1979 Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame

National Recording Registry

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his recording "Ko-Ko" (1945) by adding it to the National Recording Registry.

U.S. Postage Stamp

Year Issued Stamp USA Note
1995 32 cents Commemorative stamp U.S. Postal Stamps Photo (Scott No. 2987)[19]
Musical tributes

Lennie Tristano's overdubbed solo piano piece "Requiem" was recorded in tribute to Parker shortly after his death.
Street musician Moondog wrote his famous "Bird's Lament" in his memory.
The Californian ensemble Supersax harmonized many of Parker's improvisations for a five-piece saxophone section
Saxophonist Phil Woods recorded a tribute concert for Parker
Weather Report's jazz fusion track and highly acclaimed big band standard "Birdland", from the Heavy Weather album (1977), was a dedication by bandleader Joe Zawinul to both Charlie Parker and the New York 52nd Street club itself
In 2003 various artists including Serj Tankian and Dan the Automator put out Bird Up: The Charlie Parker Remix Project. This album created new songs by remixing Charlie Parker's originals.
The biographical song "Parker's Band" was recorded by Steely Dan on its 1974 album Pretzel Logic.
The avant-garde trombonist George Lewis recorded Homage to Charles Parker (1979)
Sparks released the song "(When I Kiss You) I Hear Charlie Parker Playing" on their 1994 album Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
Duane Allman devised a unique slide guitar technique that enabled him to mimic the sounds of chirping birds, stating in at least one interview that this was his tribute to Parker.
The Only World by poet Lynda Hull includes the poem "Ornithology" about Charlie Parker.
Refused included live recordings of Parker at the end of the song "Liberation Frequency" and transitioned it into "The Deadly Rhythm" on the album The Shape of Punk to Come.

The 1957 story "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin features a jazz/blues playing virtuoso who names Bird as the "greatest" jazz musician, whose style he hopes to emulate.
In 1949, the New York night club Birdland was named in his honor. Three years later, George Shearing wrote "Lullaby of Birdland", named for both Parker and the nightclub.
A memorial to Parker was dedicated in 1999 in Kansas City at 17th Terrace and The Paseo, near the American Jazz Museum located at 18th and Vine, featuring a 10-foot (3 m) tall bronze head sculpted by Robert Graham.
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is a free two-day music festival that takes place every summer on the last weekend of August in Manhattan, New York City, at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and Tompkins Square Park in the Lower East Side, sponsored by the non-profit organization City Parks Foundation. The festival marked its 17th anniversary in 2009.
In one of his most famous short story collections, Las armas secretas (The Secret Weapons), Julio Cortázar dedicated "El perseguidor" ("The Pursuer") to the memory of Charlie Parker. This piece examines the last days of Johnny, a drug-addict saxophonist, through the eyes of Bruno, his biographer. Some qualify this story as one of Cortazar's masterpieces in the genre.
A biographical film called Bird, starring Forest Whitaker as Parker and directed by Clint Eastwood, was released in 1988.
In 1984, legendary modern dance choreographer Alvin Ailey created the piece For Bird – With Love in honor of Parker. The piece chronicles his life, from his early career to his failing health.
In 2005, the Selmer Paris saxophone manufacturer commissioned a special "Tribute to Bird" alto saxophone, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Charlie Parker (1955–2005).
Parker's performances of "I Remember You" and "Parker's Mood" (recorded for the Savoy label in 1948, with the Charlie Parker All Stars, comprising Parker on alto sax, Miles Davis on trumpet, John Lewis on piano, Curley Russell on bass, and Max Roach on drums) were selected by Harold Bloom for inclusion on his shortlist of the "twentieth-century American Sublime", the greatest works of American art produced in the 20th century. A vocalese version of "Parker's Mood" was a popular success for King Pleasure.
The Oris Watch Company created a limited edition timepiece in Charlie Parker's name. The watch features the word "bird" at the 4 o'clock hour, in honor of Parker's nickname and signifying "Jazz, until 4 in the morning".
Jean-Michel Basquiat created many pieces to honour Charlie Parker, including Charles the First, CPRKR and Discography I.
In 1995, Live Bird, a one-man play about Charlie Parker, written and performed by actor/saxophonist Jeff Robinson, made its premier at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts.
Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones, wrote a children's book entitled Ode to a High Flying Bird as a tribute to Parker. Watts has cited Parker as a major influence in his life as a young man learning to play jazz.

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009-
2,762 Posts
Bird lives!

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
2,323 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Still remembering!

37 Posts
I will never forget my first time listening to Bird. It was in the college listening library at slippery rock.Stunned was the word!Next i listened to every Bird album they had all the early Dial and Savoy recordings. The next weekend i went to the nearest record store and bought the entire savoy collection .

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
2,323 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Still remembering!

Administrator Emeritus
18,480 Posts

658 Posts
Happy birthday Charlie!

Great story by Phil Woods, probably posted a zillion times before though i could listen to it over and over again (just like listening to Bird).

And here is the song Phil mentioned as sung by Mario Lanza (a famous singer Bird liked to listen to iirc):


350 Posts

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015
2,323 Posts
Happy Birthday Bird. To me he wasn't just a sax player or the greatest ever in modern Jazz, he was the primary catalyst to modern music ..period. he opened the door wide open and knocked it off its hinges to a plethora of possibilities. Love you Bird.
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