Happy Birthday, Charlie Parker (1920-1955)
Bird Lives! Like other greats in the jazz world I've talked about in the past, what more can be said about Charlie Parker that hasn't been said already? I first heard his music when I was 14, and I had just started beginning band on trumpet, as had my younger brother Thomas. We lived a few blocks from the library on Queen Anne and were regular visitors for books, but I remember the first time we checked out a record -- yes, it was mostly vinyl then (a few tapes) -- it was those classic Bird and Diz recordings of "All The Things You Are," "Dizzy Atmosphere", 'Shaw 'Nuff" and so many more. We checked out and rechecked out that album so many times I can't remember. It was one of the first CDs my brother ever bought as well, and that music still remains today some of the earliest seeds of my becoming a jazz musician, and at the very least got me interested in improvising. It had everything: excitement, virtuosity, depth, honesty, humor, romance -- I couldn't get enough, and still can't. I'm a sucker for Bird, what can I say -- put on "Bird with Strings" and I melt. Despite his death in 1955, people continue to use graffiti and many other medium to shout to the heavens: Bird Lives!