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Thread: Why Bird Still Lives

  1. #1
    AAJ's Barrel Roller xricci's Avatar
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    Why Bird Still Lives



    I just posted Marc Meyers' opinion piece on Charlie Parker.

    Please click the link below then post any comments about the article or Bird here...

    http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=972

  2. #2
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    OH yeah, I agree to that. And you still can hear him: All the cats who are playing got something from him. Bird is the basis for everything that came after him.

  3. #3
    AAJ's Birdologist clifton's Avatar
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    Just a few clarifications. Bird is my all-time favorite musician, bar none. I'm not really trying to canonize him here, although it might seem that way. My primary point is that Parker's attack and phrasing pose unresolved challenges for improvisers, that today's musicians have a fresh challenge in the integration of Parker's rhythmic vocabulary with the huge variety of musical worlds that exist today.

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    (I can't get the quote feature to work at the top of the post here, sooo). "Bird drew from the legato accenting of Lester Young, developing an approach in which, instead of evenly stressed, behind the beat accents, Bird dared to accent behind the beat, between beats, using articulation and phrasing that were unpredictable and wildly inventive."

    I've made the same mistake of casting Bird as being primarily influenced by Lester Young, but there's more to the story. From the liner notes to "Early Bird," Charlie Parker with the Jay McShann Orchestra (Stash ST-CD-542), this is Dan Morganstern writing about the legendary Wichita transcription session of the Jay McShann Orchestra, November 30, 1940, which were Bird's first recordings.

    "The most fully realized [Charlie Parker] solos -- on HONEYSUCKLE ROSE and LADY BE GOOD -- reveal his unique combination of Lester Young's melodic and rhythmic freedom with Coleman Hawkins's drive and harmonic strength; his truely new alternation of stresses on weak and strong beats, of suspended time and double -- and even double double -- time....

    ...He has mastered the swing tradition. He is the first alto played to base his style on stronger, heavier tenor models, without ignoring the delicacy and speed of the alto triumverate of Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges and Willie Smith, as well as Buster 'Prof' Smith from whom elements of both sound and phrasing definitely stem (check out 'Baby, Look at You' by Pete Johnson and his Bayou Boys). He is moving, in his blend of what were still thought to be stylistic opposites, towards a new definition of the tension/relaxation yin-yang principle fundamental to all swinging jazz." (End Morgenstern).

    Parker also recorded the number most identified with Coleman Hawkins, "Body and Soul" at this pivotal moment in jazz.

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    Also, living players who come to mind that still have Parker's vocabulary firmly in hand are Lou Donaldson (though he favors Hodges on the ballads) and Ira Sullivan, who within the last couple of years began playing alto again and is just burning in the Charlie Parker style. Best, Lazaro Vega

  6. #6
    Registered User BIOSNex's Avatar
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    This is a slam dunk! Without question, Bird is one of the most influential artists of his generation. The influence and after shocks of his innovations and playing are still being documented. I recall when I was very young living in Ohio and reading Ross Russell’s book “Bird Lives” (which was severely questioned for it’s accuracy, I recall Max Roach telling me when I was a student at Youngstown State in the early 70’s, that Ross Russell was “psychotic!”) and Robert Reisner’s “Bird” while listening to every Parker recording I could get my hands on. I do recall the tune “Out Of Nowhere” from the recording “Live At St Nicks” being my personal theme. Yardbird was giant in the music not only because of his superior technical facility but also for his brazen ideas and daring innovativeness.

  7. #7
    AAJ's Birdologist clifton's Avatar
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    Charlie Parker once said something to the effect that, "All I try to do is look for the pretty notes and swing." And although I wrote about Bird's innovative attack and phrasing, I'm continually amazed how, within all the rhythmic sophistication, Bird still found the pretty notes every time.

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    Registered User mmilovan's Avatar
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    And, maybe more important: he realy swings all the time, and that was not always the case with his followers. I know this could be somewhat herratic oppinion. Or, to put in this way: his followers swung differently from Bird, which music were deeply in roots of KC style, and, at the same time has that avangarde look as well.

  9. #9
    AAJ's Birdologist clifton's Avatar
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    mmilovan: This brings us back to my original premise, which is that Bird's rhythmic conception might still be viewed as avant-garde.

  10. #10
    AAJ's Birdologist clifton's Avatar
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    "Bird And Fats"

    To the best of my knowledge, this 1992 CD on the Cool Blue label is the only available version of that amazing Parker-Navarro-Bud Powell gig at Birdland. It's in heavy rotation in my CD player - yes, again! - and it illustrates Bird's art quite well, with Fats and Bud also tearing it up. Bird and Fats trading fours on "Street Beat", must be heard to be believed.

  11. #11
    Registered User John L's Avatar
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    Clifton: Actually, that Cool Blue CD presents the concert only in abridged form. There exists about 90 minutes of tape. The complete concert can be found on either of these two "Bird at Birdland" box sets. One was released by Charly, the other is on the Ember label.





  12. #12
    AAJ's Birdologist clifton's Avatar
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    John: You are correct about the "Bird And Fats" CD. The complete gig was issued on vinyl by Columbia in 1978 under the title "One Night At Birdland".

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    Registered User mmilovan's Avatar
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    Re: "Bird And Fats"

    Originally posted by clifton
    To the best of my knowledge, this 1992 CD on the Cool Blue label is the only available version of that amazing Parker-Navarro-Bud Powell gig at Birdland.
    Is the abouve mentioned live date the one where they playes "Round About Midnight" with Bud extensive solo on that tune?

  14. #14
    AAJ's Birdologist clifton's Avatar
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    mmilovan: yes it is. And welcome back to the board, dude.

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    Registered User Saundra Hummer's Avatar
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