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Charlie Parker

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(1920 – 1955)

Charles Christopher “Bird” Parker, Jr (29th August 1920 – 12th March 1955) was a U.S. saxophonist and composer. Early in his career Parker was dubbed Yardbird; this was later shortened to “Bird” (or sometimes “Yard”) and remained Parker’s nickname for the rest of his life, and inspiration for the titles of his works such as “Ornithology and Yardbird Suite”.

Parker is commonly considered the greatest bebop jazz musician. In terms of influence and impact, his contribution to jazz was so great that Charles Mingus commented that if Bird were alive today, he would think he was living in a hall of mirrors. Bird’s talent is compared almost without argument to such legendary musicians as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and his reputation and legend as one of the best saxophonists is such that some critics say he was unsurpassed.

A founding figure of bebop, Parker’s innovative approach to melody, rhythm and harmony have exerted an incalculable influence on jazz… Several of Parker’s songs have become standards of the repertoire, and innumerable musicians have studied Parker’s music and absorbed elements of his style.

Parker became an icon for the Beat generation, and was a pivotal figure in the evolving conception of the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual, rather than just a popular entertainer.

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