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Charlie Parker (1920-1955) “ Bird ”. Charles Christopher Parker, Jr was born in Kansas City Kansas, the only son of Addie and Charles Parker Sr. Charles.

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Presentation on theme: "Charlie Parker (1920-1955) “ Bird ”. Charles Christopher Parker, Jr was born in Kansas City Kansas, the only son of Addie and Charles Parker Sr. Charles."— Presentation transcript:

1 Charlie Parker (1920-1955) “ Bird ”

2 Charles Christopher Parker, Jr was born in Kansas City Kansas, the only son of Addie and Charles Parker Sr. Charles Sr. was a vaudeville performer who became a chef on the railroad. He left home when Charlie was eleven and did not return. When Charlie was 13 years old, he enrolled in band class. He was assigned to play the baritone horn, but he soon became bored. He asked his mother to buy him a saxophone. All she could afford was a 30 year old instrument that cost her $45.00 (which was several weeks wages). Charlie Parker

3 Charlie was an especially bright child, received good grades in school and was well liked by his teachers. When Charlie was a child, his favorite hobby was reading. Charlie loved practicing his saxophone. At the age of 14 he was a pretty good musician. Unfortunately he spent so much time practicing, he neglected his schoolwork. He stopped going to class and began to fail all his courses. By the time he was a sophomore in high school, he just quit school all together. Charlie Parker

4 At the age of sixteen, Charlie began performing professionally. One winter night, he and his band members were driving to a city to perform and their car hit a patch of ice and skidded out of control. One of the band members was killed and the rest were seriously injured. Charlie suffered several broken ribs and a fractured spine. He was in great pain and had to stay at home for two months to recuperate. The good thing was that Charlie received a check for several hundred dollars from an insurance company as restitution for his accident. Charlie took the money a beautiful new saxophone.

5 Charlie Parker was commonly known as Yardbird. Sometimes people called him “Yard” and sometimes they called him “Bird”, but it is reported that Charlie himself liked the name Yardbird. No one knows for sure how he got that name, but one speculation is that he got it because he loved a good chicken dinner. In the South (where Charlie was from), chicken was sometimes called yardbird because chickens ran around freely in people’s yards. Bird Parker

6 As a teenager Charlie was hanging around the night clubs of Kansas City playing when he could and listening to “riff”, a new jazz style evolving from African music and developing in Kansas City. Charlie was unconventional and not accepted by most of the musicians. At one jam session when he tried to improvise, everyone laughed. Another time when he was invited to play with Count Basie, the drummer threw a cymbal at his feet because Charlie was off key and playing in the wrong time. Count Basie

7 Charlie decided to go to New York, which was the center of jazz at the time. However Charlie felt restricted with the routines and arrangement of a big band. He started spending time playing at Minton’s in Harlem. The musicians there recognized Charlie’s abilities and skills and accepted him and his music.

8 Charlie’s talent continued to grow and he developed a style of music called “BeBop” which stresses improvisation over a more traditional melody. Charlie was also known for his technical ability on the saxophone. His fingers were “lightening fast” and could play notes rapidly.

9 Charlie traveled to Hollywood with Dizzy Gillespie and played in a local club. He soon started his own group which featured Miles Davis. During his stay in California his dependency on illegal drugs and alcohol increased until he suffered a breakdown and was committed to a mental hospital. After 6 months he was released and returned to New York. He seemed a different person and composed music and played steadily for the next two years. Charlie with Dizzy Gillespie Charlie with Miles Davis

10 Night in Tunisia is a well known song written by Dizzy Gillespie and played by Dizzy and Charlie. It is a classic bebop song. Tunisia is a country on the north edge of the African continent.

11 In 1949 Bird made his first tour overseas playing in Paris at the International Jazz Festival. When he returned, he was honored by the opening of a New York club that was named Birdland. Charlie’s success led to tours of Europe and America including shows in Sweden, London, Los Angles and San Francisco

12 Unfortunately Charlie Parker returned to his use of narcotics and alcohol. His health was ruined and in 1955 at the age of 35 he died in a hotel from pneumonia brought on by his hard lifestyle. Charlie was a jazz giant. His break from the big band music gave rise to BeBop. His individualism gave courage to hundreds of young musicians to experiment and innovate with their music.


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