Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker

Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker

Article excerpt

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker

AUTHOR: GARY GIDDINS

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PRESS, 2013

PRICE: $17.95

ISBN: 978-0-8166-9041-1.

Charles Parker, Jr. (1920-1955), was known personally and professionally as "Charlie Parker", "Yardbird" and finally and simply "Bird". He is considered the most important Jazz musician after Louis Armstrong as a result of his improvisational work and stylistic acumen, in being the primary creator of the first style of modern jazz known as Bebop. Jazz historians mostly agree that Bebop was a style also represented by the collective efforts (performance and composition) of Parker, trumpeter, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie and pianist, Thelonious Sphere Monk. However, it was Parker's development of the specific motivic language and idiomatic inflections that established the true earmarks of the style. While his long term physical presence as a driving force in the direction of modern jazz was truncated by an early death at age 34, he nonetheless remains the key figure in the liberation of jazz harmony that has affected all genres of American music.

Seldom does one find a writer who revises one of his more celebrated works, especially that of a biographical nature. Mr. Giddins first published this book in 1987. It was extremely well received at that time and has remained one of the more interesting interpretations of Parker's life to date. However, since the book's original release, a number of other factors influenced Giddens' desire to refocus the public's eyes on Parker. The NeoBop movement that emerged with the "Young Lions of Jazz" started the early 1980s and gave rise to a new generation of musicians that either commented directly in the Jazz medium (Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Terrance Blanchard, Marcus Roberts, et al) or accessed Jazz en route to other landscapes (Harry Connick, Jr. …

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