Chasin' the Bird: The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker

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Oxford University Press, May 1, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 242 pages
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Charlie Parker has been idolized by generations of jazz musicians and fans. Indeed, his spectacular musical abilities--his blinding speed and brilliant improvisational style--made Parker a legend even before his tragic death at age thirty-four.
Now, in Chasin' The Bird, Brian Priestley offers a marvelous biography of this jazz icon, ranging from his childhood in Kansas City to his final harrowing days in New York. Priestley offers new insight into Parker's career, beginning as a teenager single-mindedly devoted to mastering the saxophone. We follow Parker on his first trip to New York, penniless, washing dishes for $9.00 a week at Jimmy's Chicken Shack, a favorite hangout of the great Art Tatum, whose stunning speed and ingenuity were an influence on the young musician. Priestley sheds light on Parker's collaborations with other jazz legands, and illuminates such classic recordings as "Salt Peanuts," "A Night in Tunisia," and "Yardbird Suite"--music which defined an era. He also gives us an unflinching look at Parker's dark side--the drug abuse, heavy drinking, and tangled relations with women and the law. He recounts the death of Parker's daughter Pree at just two-and-a-half years old, and Parker's own death at thirty-four, in such wretched condition that the doctor listed his age as fifty-three.
With an invaluable discography that lists every recording of Charlie Parker that has ever been made publicly available, this is a must-have biography of a true jazz giant, one that helps us penetrate the dazzling surface to grasp the artistry beneath.
  

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Chasin' the bird: the life and legacy of Charlie Parker

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As one pillar upon which jazz was built, Charlie Parker (1920-55) deserves a comprehensive biography. The need is doubly important owing to the myths and misconceptions surrounding the saxophonist's ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 Body and soul
9
2 The jumpin blues
22
3 Nows the time
39
4 Parkers mood
55
5 Celebrity
71
6 I remember you
88
7 The song is you
106
8 Confirmation
125
Discography
139
Notes
199
Bibliography
231
Index
233
Copyright

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About the author (2007)


Brian Priestley is the co-author of The Rough Guide to Jazz, now in its fourth edition, and the biographer of Charles Mingus and John Coltrane. He is also a noted jazz pianist, specializing in the Ellingtonian repertoire, and has recorded several CDs. He is also a critic and reviewer for numerous magazines, including Jazzwise, and a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3.

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