Bird of Prey

One of my heroes, like a lot of budding Saxophone players, was the late great saxophonist Charlie Parker who was one of the pioneers of the Bebop movement in the 1940s. Now quite when Bebop started is up for debate, some paint Coleman Hawkins’ famous 1939 recording of “Body and Soul” as the beginning. Now while I do believe elements of the foundations of Bebop are present in that recording (the bridge section is a total flight of fancy based on the tune’s chord progression) it is still steeped in the Swing and Chicagoan pattern of brief solos encapsulated within the melody.

Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were pioneers in that they used existing chord progressions and structures to create new melodies and more creative solos. “Scrabble from the Apple”, “Lester Leaps In”, “Ornithology” are tunes based on the chord progressions of “Honeysuckle Rose”, “I Got Rhythm” and “How High the Moon” respectively, the latter illustrated superbly by a live Recording by Ronnie Scott in the 1950s in an all-star line up including Sir John Dankworth when he was simply Johnny Dankworth.

Here is a rare example of video of Charlie Parker playing “Hot House” from 1952.

Now this was made a long time after Parker and Gillespie had stopped working together down to creative differences and certain recreational habits of Charlie Parker, but the dynamic in the playing is still there.

Parker was also responsible for hiring a young Trumpet player by the name of Miles into his post-war quintet which would prove to be the start of another major change in Jazz. When Miles was signed to Prestige records he remembered Charlie Parker and hired him for a session and the results can be heard on the album “Collector’s Items” and unusually Charlie Parker is playing the Tenor Saxophone as opposed to the Alto. Also, due to issues with record contracts Parker is credited as “Charlie Chan”.

Parker can be heard soloing around the 3:20 mark.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bird

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