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CELEBRATING CHARLIE PARKER – A Centennial Tribute
This performance is underwritten in part by a generous donation from Mary Ann Boatright
One of a handful of musicians who can be said to have permanently changed jazz. Born on August 29, 1920 in Kansas City, Kansas, Charlie Parker was arguably the greatest saxophonist of all time. He could play remarkably fast lines that, if slowed down to half-speed, would reveal that every note was coherent. “Bird,” as he was known, along with his contemporaries Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell, is considered a founder of bebop. In reality, he was a classically-influenced and intuitive player who expressed himself with extraordinary fluency. Rather than basing his improvisations closely on the melody as was done in swing, he was a master of chordal improvising, creating new melodies that were based on the structure of a song. In fact, Bird wrote several future standards such as “Anthropology,” “Ornithology,” “Scrapple from the Apple,” and “Ko Ko,” along with blues numbers “Now’s the Time” and “Parker’s Mood” that borrowed and modernized the chord structures of older tunes. Parker’s remarkable technique, original sound, and his ability to create harmonically advanced phrases that could be simultaneously logical and whimsical, were highly influential. By 1950, it was impossible to play “modern jazz” with credibility without having closely studied Charlie Parker.
The tribute band, assembled for this concert by Javon Jackson, is comprised of players who were immersed, influenced and experienced linearly in the bebop tradition back to the source, Charlie Parker. Three of the players, Jackson, Donald Harrison, and George Cables, played in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messenger band, the hard bop blood stream that emanated from Charlie Parker.
Javon Jackson – tenor saxophone
Donald Harrison – alto saxophone
George Cables – piano
Gerald Cannon – double bass
McClenty Hunter – drums