Saturday, July 26, 2008

Charlie 'Yardbird' Parker

Charlie Parker @ Wikipedia

As an addendum to yesterday's Charlie Bird music sample is today's brief tribute to the man most responsible for bebop jazz (a kind of jazz my friend and co-worker Willie T finds too busy for his playing tastes but doesn't mind listening to the man). I've taken it upon myself to help Willie remember things from his days as trumpet player for the Red Tops, a Dallas-based jazz group that played throughout the 50s and 60s. I went out and bought up several jazz records and naturally Parker was at the top of the list due to my love for his song "Koko". Bebop jazz is fast becoming my preferred kind with it's crazy song structure and tendency for unusual solos. And Willie loves it. Whenever I put on one of Charlie Bird's records Willie will pop his head up here and there to note the song title. He doesn't have to look at the liner notes, he just knows the songs by heart.
One thing I found interesting to learn from Willie came when I was looking at the liner notes for a compilation of Parker's recordings that frequently cited the date and place where a song was recorded. Every so often the place of recording was listed only as "an unknown studio in New York City". When I asked Willie about this he told me of the musician's union and how you couldn't play without union approval, or else you had to take a back door and record or play in secret. Think of the RIAA today and imagine them applying their tactics against file sharers on the playing of live music. Strange things, I tell you. Willie did say he would have loved to play with Parker but never got the chance. This was because in order to make it big in jazz you either had to move to NYC or Europe and Willie liked Dallas too much.
Still, here's to the man that makes Willie T bop his head: Charlie 'Bird' Parker.