Artist of the Day: Charlie Parker

posted by Matt Jarrells on 07/31/2017

July 31, 2017

Charlie Parker is one of the most influential figures in the history of Jazz. Known as Yardbird or simply Bird, Parker's virtuosic abilities on the saxophone have made him an icon beloved by jazz fans and artists who have kept the man's music alive in the 60 plus years after his tragic death at the age of 34.  Parker began playing the sax at the age of 11. His big break came in the early 40s when he began playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach.  Out of these sessions the style of Jazz known as Bebop was created.

Bebop as a style is known for its fast pace, complex chord progression, and heavy improvisation.  It was created as a reaction to the heavy big band/ swing style of the 1930s. In place of the big bands that gave that style it's name, Bebop was performed by small groups of musicians called Combos.  Parker was an integral part of many influential combos performing with all the greats of the period. Sadly his career was short lived ending when in 1955 he succumbed to his heroin addiction. Bird influence on the genre will never be forgotten. When asked to describe Jazz in four word's Miles Davis replied "Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker".

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