Charlie Parker Biography
Charles "Bird" Parker, Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Early in his career Parker was dubbed "Yardbird" (there are many contradictory stories of its origin). It was later shortened to "Bird" and remained Parker's nickname for the rest of his life and inspiration for the titles of his works, such as "Yardbird Suite" and "Bird Feathers". The New York City nightclub Birdland was named after him, as were the George Shearing song "Lullaby of Birdland" and the Weather Report's composition "Birdland."
A persistent myth, repeated by many reputable sources, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, is that Christopher was Parker's second Christian name.
Parker is commonly considered one of the greatest jazz musicians; like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington he is among the iconic figures of jazz. Jazz critic Scott Yanow speaks for many jazz fans and musicians when he suggests that "Parker was arguably the greatest saxophonist of all time." A founding figure of bebop, Parker's innovative approach to melody, rhythm and harmony was enormously influential on his contemporaries, and his music remains an inspiration and resource for contemporary jazz musicians of all stripes. Several of Parker's songs have become standards of the repertoire.
Parker also became an icon for the Beat generation, and was a pivotal figure in the evolving conception of the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual, rather than just a popular entertainer. At various times, Parker fused jazz with other musical styles, from classical (seeking to study with Edgard Varèse and Stefan Wolpe) to Latin music (recordings with Machito), blazing paths followed later by others.
Parker made extensive recordings for three labels — Savoy and Dial best document his early work, while Verve is representative of his later career: