Living the melodies he created, jazz saxophonist Charles Parker (1920-1955) was born on this day in Kansas City, Kansas. A musical genius, "Yardbird" revolutionized music, creating improvisional jazz--bebop--in the 1940s.
"I realized by using the high notes of the chords as a melodic line, and by the right harmonic progression, I could play what I heard inside me. That's when I was born," he said.
In 1939, "Bird" moved to New York City, then made his recording debut a year later. With music born from jam sessions with such jazz greats as Dizzie Gillespie, Max Roach, and Miles Davis, Parker played bullet-fast lines with innovative range and creativity. He broke down a chord into it's components and let the arpeggios fly.
"He was the other half of my heartbeat." explained Gillespie.
Certainly, "Bird Lives" on in his classic songs like Billie's Bounce, Salt Peanuts, and Ko Ko. His songs can be heard in the remasters of his Dial, Savoy, and Verve recordings. His music resonates in Clint Eastwood's film, Bird (1988), just one of many tributes. With enduring urgency, Parker lives on in the harmonic freedom of those who choose to play the horn with passion.
"First learn your horn and all the theory," Parker once advised, "Next develop a style. Then forget all that...and just play."
Play the truth that soars inside of you.