The Life and Music of Charlie Parker
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: Music in American Life
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
I would like to thank a number of individuals and institutions: above all, Richard Wentworth, Willis G. Reiger, and the staff at the University of Illinois Press for their outstanding stewardship of this biography. Kudos to Teddy Dibble for introducing me to Bird’s music, for his friendship and his help with this manuscript. Thanks to Norman Saks and Carl Woideck, who gave so much to ...
A clap of thunder heralded the passing of Charlie “Bird” Parker. Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who gave Charlie refuge and comfort during his final days in her suite at the Hotel Stanhope on Fifth Avenue, recalled, “At the moment of his going, there was a tremendous clap of thunder. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I’ve thought about it often since; how strange it ...
1. Kansas City Blues
Charlie “Bird” Parker grew up in Kansas City, a community divided against itself by the Kansas-Missouri state line. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Charlie came of age musically while hanging around the alleyways behind the nightclubs that lined Twelfth Street in Kansas City, Missouri. The two Kansas Cities were, culturally and politically, worlds apart. Kansas City, ...
2. Buster’s Tune
The Ozark Mountains cover fifty thousand square miles of southern Missouri, northern Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma. Caves and cold springs riddle the hollows of the rocky hills, thickly forested by hawthorn, oak, hickory, maple, and basswood trees. Rugged individuals of Scots-Irish descent settled the isolated area during the early nineteenth century. Extended ...
3. Hootie Blues
Arriving in Chicago early the next morning after his abrupt departure from home and family in Kansas City, Charlie headed straight for a jam session at the 65 Club, hoping to hustle up a few gigs and a place to stay. He worked his way through the crowd, borrowed a saxophone, stepped up to the microphone, and stopped the show with his quicksilver execution and ...
4. Bebop [Includes Image Plates A-J]
A few months after Charlie joined the Earl Hines band, Jay McShann ran into Hines at a jam session on Fifty-Second Street. Hines begged Mc- Shann to take Charlie back. McShann chuckled, “He [Hines] threw up his hands when he saw me and said, ‘That’s the worst man I ever met in my life! He owes everybody money. Come get him!’ Earl had bought Bird a saxophone ...
5. Relaxing at Camarillo
On the way from New York to Los Angeles, the band stopped off in Chicago to switch to the Super Chief, a sleek express train that made the trip from Chicago to Los Angeles in less than forty hours. During the ten-hour layover, band members stopped by a jam session at a club on the South Side. Despite Gillespie’s best efforts to get Charlie and other band members back ...
6. Dewey Square
When Charlie and Doris returned to New York City on Easter Monday, April 7, 1947, they moved into the Dewey Square Hotel at 201 and 203 West 117th Street. One of the largest hotels in Harlem, the Dewey Square Hotel featured 250 luxurious rooms. That evening friends and fans threw a welcome home party for Charlie at Small’s Paradise. The next night Charlie ...
7. Parker’s Mood
The year 1951 began with great promise for Charlie—professionally and personally. Billy Shaw lined up a series of engagements with the string group stretching through the spring, and Chan was pregnant with their first child. “Bird was joyous,” Chan recalled. “My having his baby assured him of my love. Before Pree was born we moved to a large apartment on Avenue ...
...i drew from a wide variety of secondary and primary sources in telling Charlie Parker’s story. The pioneering research and musical analysis of numerous individuals who have previously researched and written about Charlie Parker, particularly Robert Reisner, Ross Russell, Carl Woideck, Gary Giddins, Brian Priestly, Lawrence O. Koch, Ken Vail, and Chan Parker Llew Walker, a leading Parker scholar and host of the website Bird Lives ...