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Happy 100th - Bird Lives!

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Ethan Iverson posted seven marvelous pieces of insight and pedagogy into Bird. Montreal saxophonist Rémi Bolduc has been transcribing a Bird solo a day throughout quarantine (I think he's up to 185 now...)


For a long time I couldn't listen to Bird with "fresh ears" â I heard it less like music and more like exercises in perfection (the same way I felt about Bach), and I heard everyone who came after him regurgitating his vocabulary. I'm starting to get back to hearing the music in it now.

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I have my Omni book out, and my Charlie Parker play list set up and will attempt to play along (at half speed ) to mark the occasion.


Yesterday there was an old interview on the NPR show 'Fresh Air,' which featured many of Bird"s sidemen such Max Roach. If you"re a bebop fan you should check it out!

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I've been lucky enough to hang out on many of sax great Steve Colemans online chats. Steve Coleman has been listening and transcribing Charlie Parker for like 30 years diving deeper and deeper into the fine details of Parkers playing and talks about it in his hangs. Amazing when you look at Parker he only had about 10 productive years that people are still challenged by and studying all these decades later. He was no child prodigy like many would like/hope he was Parker worked his ass off to get to be the musical legend he became.


Thank you Charlie for all you left us.

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Yesterday there was an old interview on the NPR show 'Fresh Air,' which featured many of Bird"s sidemen such Max Roach. If you"re a bebop fan you should check it out!
I heard that yesterday. One thing that stood out. Bird practiced 10-15 hours everyday for four years.

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I'll never forget my introduction to Parker in "The Black Cats Jump" a NPR series I heard driving trucks in the dark wilderness of Alaska around 1979. Northern lights strung across the black sky, shimmering; I first heard Parker's alto riffs from those sparse sessions. It was and is the most modern music I ever heard, and still my favorite modern style of jazz, by far.


Now I realise it was the cutting session culture those guys lived in after the band gigs, where they honed their chops to Tatum levels, and beyond.


It's a tragedy the drug addiction which plagued the music scene and Parker especially was regarded as criminal issue and not simply a health issue. Even more than heroin, I think it was the intoleratant reaction to heroin's victims which devastated Jazz, and went on to imprison many thousands from the 80's till today in the "Drug War", not to mention it's terrible effect on Latin America.


Inronically the organised crime sponsered music scene in NY, Chicago, and Kansas City gave us Jazz, and then killed it with intensely addictive drugs not protected by huge industries like alcohol or cigarettes.


Parker spent as much time organising his habit as playing, and I hear that in his voice. I never had the slightest interest in saxophones before Parker, but after I heard him at around age 20 I bought my first instrument: a clarinet. Luckily I was never offered any heroin.

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I wrote a song for the occasion. :)


Unfortunately, I'll not be able to record it for some time, because of an incident which happened to my right hand.

Perhaps some brave soul from KC wants to give it a try?

It's a medium/swing tune in the a relaxed bebop style, with the intro/interlude in straight eights, and the theme and solo in swing.


Here it is:


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