A Bird’s Life: How Charlie Parker Changed The Course Of Jazz History

Charlie Parker was one of the most important figures in the development of jazz and in particular Bop. His was a thoughtful kind of jazz, a saxophonist unrestricted by arrangements made him the master of improvisation. A troubled man, with drugs and drink at the heart of his problems, he was also a genius. He is the man of which it can be said, without fear of contradiction, that he changed the course of jazz history.

Charles Parker Jr hailed from the jazz well that was Kansas City. Born on 29 August 1920, to a teenage mother, his father had once worked in a travelling minstrel show, who by all accounts he had a decent childhood, given that his father was more interested in gambling than parenting. By the time he was 14, Parker was living in the ‘jazz district’ of Kansas City and his father had left, leaving his doting mother to bring up Charlie. He was besotted with music and the life of the musicians he saw around 12th Street and Vine. Eventually, his office cleaner mother scraped together enough to buy Parker a beaten up second-hand alto sax.

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A Bird’s Life: How Charlie Parker Changed The Course Of Jazz History