Charlie Parker’s Birthday

Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City on this date in 1920. The Rifftides staff debated whether to observe the occasion by publishing a 5000-word essay tracing Parker’s musical heritage, analyzing the components of his style and evaluating his influence on several generations of musicians. You’ll be happy to know that we decided instead to take Bird’s advice in the film below and let his music speak for itself.
This is the only known clip of Parker actually playing. In several others he is seen performing to pre-recorded sound tracks. The man presenting 1951 Down Beat awards to Parker and Dizzy Gillespie is the columnist Earl Wilson, assisted by critic Leonard Feather. The rhythm section is Dick Hyman, piano; Sandy Block, bass; and Charlie Smith, drums. The piece is Tadd Dameron’s “Hot House.” The staff is aware that many of you have seen this clip. We are equally aware that you can’t see it too often.

Happy birthday.
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  1. says

    This is a very interesting video, and not only because of the music. The introduction is quite weird: “Boys …” … ??? … There is a passage where he plays one of his speedy lines, but one can hardly see his fingers move. It’s always amazing to see, how he’s standing there like a monolith, a bastion of calm, behind him the over-enthusiastically grinning Charlie Smith, obviously experiencing one of the happiest moments in his life.
    Here comes a little bebop ad: If you wanna hear some more with him, feel free to click on my name*. I coincidentally celebrated him twice at my blog without thinking of his birthday.
    (*In red, upper left corner.)