Tag Archive | "Bebop"

Charlie Parker: The Man Who Lived Too Much

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Charlie Parker: The Man Who Lived Too Much

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Robert

Charles Parker Jr. was born August 29, 1920. He was involved with drugs & alcohol throughout his extremely short life (35 years). These vices would eventually become part of his untimely death on

March 12, 1955.  Nevertheless, Parker has forever changed jazz and left a wonderful legacy.

Parker’s passion for music was sparked while listening to his father, a vaudeville singer & dancer, play the piano on his sparse visits home. Once enrolled in high school, Parker took up the saxophone in the high school band. Parker played with local bands until 1935, when he made the decision to leave school and pursue his dream — a career in music. He is known as “Bird,” and there are several theories as to why. One theory is as follows:

Parker got the nickname “Yardbird” while traveling to a “gig” with the Jay McShann Orchestra. The car he was riding in accidentally ran over a chicken and Parker insisted on taking the dead “yardbird” and fixing it up for dinner at their destination, rather than having it go to waste. — The Jazzine

Charlie Parker is one of the most distinguished jazz musicians with well over fifty records published. His music has influenced countless artists since his first recording with Savoy Records in 1944. He is credited as being one of the inventors of bebop, recording “Shaw Nuff” with Dizzy Gillespie in 1945. “Shaw Nuff” is noted as being the first important bebop recording. Several of Charlie Parker’s songs have become jazz standards, including “Confirmation,” “Anthropology” and “Billies Bounce.

Unfortunately, apart from having been an innovator, Parker is known for his drug addiction. After being involved in an automobile accident as a child, he developed an addiction to morphine. This developed into a heroine addiction in short order, which would eventually have a factor in his death. He would miss gigs, practices and other appointments which led to him being fired. Parker’s addiction was widely known and regrettably played a part in the connection between jazz music & drug use.

Examples of Parker’s Music:
“Hot House” -Bird & Diz are awarded Downbeat awards!

“Ballade”

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What Is Bebop?

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What Is Bebop?

Posted on 13 April 2010 by Robert

Before the second world war, big bands (also known as swing bands) were the “in” thing with artists such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman being some of the more well-known leaders of the swing era. The bands usually consisted of between twelve and twenty-five musicians featuring a whole host of brass, woodwind, and rhythm instruments. Swing didn’t allow much room for improvisation and the solos (if there were any) were usually short. Wanting to show off their skills, they began to experiment with a different type of music. They began to experiment with music that allowed for more artistic freedom, that allowed them to bend the rules of music theory. They began to experiment with bebop.

Nobody can say the exact moment when bebop was born, but the first important bebop recording was one done by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie entitled “Shaw Nuff.” You can listen to “Shaw Nuff” below:

Here’s a video of Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie:

You can tell by listening to “Shaw Nuff” that bebop is characterized by fast rhythms that seem to move around a lot. I’ve heard bebop described as sounded “stressed out” or “frantic,” and it’s easy to understand why. In bebop, the bass drums rhythm-keeping function is moved to the hi-hat and the bass drum is used for accents. Below is a great video of Steve Gadd’s bebop drumming:

Bebop musicians often alter the way the chords are played by the rhythm section by flatting certain notes or adding others in order to add more “flavor” to the music and make the solo more interesting. However, as much flavor as they tried to add, bebop was not initially received very well by the general public who didn’t understand the point of bebop. Swing music was much easier to dance to than bebop, and dance music is what sold in that day. Bebop was more of a “music for musicians,” in a way that many times musicians understood what the soloists were doing while non-musicians didn’t.

Whether the general public accepted it or not, bebop greatly changed the face of jazz. Jazz went from being a type of dance music to a virtuosic style of jazz where musicians had an outlet for their creative impulses.

Great Bebop Albums:
Krupa & Rich
Bird’s Best Bop on Verve
Drums Around the Corner
Drum Suite
Moanin’
Clifford Brown & Max Roach
Tenor Madness
The Sidewinder
Smokin’ at the Half Note

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