Charles Parker Jr. was born on August 29, 1920 and left us on March 12, 1955. He was just five months shy of his 35th year. The alto saxophone, Parker’s main focus, was patented in 1860, an upstart in the very cliquish world of woodwinds and brass instruments. At first considered a “novelty” instrument, the saxophone family really did not find acceptance as a serious contender until it found itself in the hands of players like Frankie Trumbauer, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Willie Smith and others.
We’ll hear some of these players to set the stage for the high octane virtuosity that Charlie Parker brought to the still very young alto sax, which hadn’t even achieved its 100 year mark at the time of Parker’s death.
We’ll also hear his music, and we’ll hear him speak of how he thought the music should be: clean, precise, and direct. A directness that conveyed honesty and beauty to his audience. Poetry and spoken word and musicians who have continued to perform his music, unearthing new meanings and challenges for those digging deeply into his work will also be heard. Charlie Parker’s legacy set a very high benchmark for all saxophonists and musicians, one that is still aimed for in 2022. Tune in Friday September 2, 7-10AM!
Resources, for fun, in no particular order
Rudy Weidoeft’s Advanced Studies for Saxophone (1928)
It’s a cold winter night in the early ’60s and I’m in a bowling alley in Worcester, Ma. A cat I work with is facing the alleys and comes up to me and whispers “Bird Lives” and I turn around to watch the bowlers and there’s this bowler, preparing to bowl, wearing a shirt with the name Charlie Parker embroidered on the back.