JazzWax Honors Bird

If you love, like, or appreciate jazz, you might want to check out JazzWax —  http://jazzwax.com/ — a cool blog started a decade ago by WSJ writer Marc Myers. It’s free and it shows up in my email box 1-2 times weekly.

Yesterday’s (8/17/20) post featured a 100th birthday tribute to legendary alto saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker (1920-55). If you’re an avid jazz fan, you probably don’t need explanation of Mr. Parker’s contributions to the genre. (Although I might not describe my fandom as avid, I’ve been a Bird admirer ever since college daze when I first heard Steely Dan’s classic “Mr. Parker’s Band.”) In any case, I was taken by Myers’ succinct synopsis of his significance:

The alto saxophonist was a critically important revolutionary and remains essential listening today for five historical reasons: First, he helped invent bebop in 1945, a jazz form that shifted the focus from bands and bandleaders to individuals. Second, he helped invent a new way of playing based on high-speed improvisation. Third, he lyricized the blues, creating dozens of new memorable melodies. Fourth, he united modern jazz and pop by recording the first commercially successful songbook jazz-pop album. And fifth, he helped launch the civil rights movement by creating a Black idiom that showcased Black talent and enabled Black musicians to express artistic exceptionalism without having their contribution marginalized or stolen.

Bird’s Sax in the Smithsonian

So, give yourself a listen and “take a piece of Mr. Parker’s band.”

Onward, Malcolm Gauld