Sunday, June 2, 2013


When national sports broadcasts originate in Kansas City, the coverage invariably includes a shot of the mural on the south side of the Power & Light district that features a rendering of Charlie Parker.  The attempt to provide viewers with a bit of local flavor is commendable.

Yet the reality "on the ground"- in the parlance of television journalists- in Kansas City emits a rather sour note.  Parker may be one of Kansas City's most famous sons, but I'm willing to wager that only a tiny percentage of area residents who see his image employed as parking lot cue or as part of a mural have heard his music.
Parker may even be falling out of favor among musicians.  It's entirely possible that I'm missing out on nightly revivals of Parker's music, but the last time heard a performance of a full Parker composition- rather than partial quotations- was in March.  Unfortunately, other than suggesting that everyone get a load of this, I don't have any solutions.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Leroy said...

Same thing with Obama. Only a fraction of our nation is engaged enough to know how our President is ruining our nation.....and to think I voted for him on his first term. Glad I got wise. Bird Lives he changed the music. Obama is crushing this country.

Chris Hazelton said...

This is a blog about jazz, keep your politics on Tony's Kansas City.

Matt Leifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leroy said...

Chris and Matt, Sorry to offend you guys. Its just sad to see that the VAST majority of Americans are clueless when it comes to the ramifications of Bird's music and Obamas policy. Once you become a zealot the dialogue is over.

I had about 3200 Facebook friends but now I'm on the methadone program. Facebook is the Heroin of our generation fellows. It sucks the life out of people and it can even ruin families.

On to music, just picked up the nine disc Sonny Stitt Mosaic collection. WE all know what a striking resemblance Stitt and Bird had. These Stitt discs however surpass Bird in my opinion. Not only because of the pristine recording quality but the quantity of music. Its like he stole Bird's harmony, licks and cliches and elongated them. He does not quote as frequently and his solos are less bipolar. Phrases are longer, syncopation is more plentiful and of course his horn doesn't sounds like its being held together by band aids. Been listening non-stop to these discs and they are super bad and the playing is polished. Stitt lived till age 58. Bird age 34.

Stitt and Bird can continue to change the world one listener at a time. Be interesting to have other opinions of Stitt and Bird.

Tony DeSare said...

Parker didn't write compositions. He wrote lines.
PS Thanks for mentioning me in your blog. Tony

Cb said...

Every Jazz Studies Program in the world should have bestowed honorary doctorate degrees upon Charlie Parker at this point in history.

They all have to teach his musical discoveries everyday in each course and syllabus.

He should have hundreds of PhDs. Period.

That's the crime, if there is one - that none (including UMKC) have done so to date.

It is always most difficult to be the originator of something like the language Charlie Parker essentially created.

To be the one who comes up with a brilliant idea or concept is always most legitimate, no matter how jealous it makes others.

Don't be deceived by any arguments about Bird's relevance today. There would have been no 'Trane without Bird. There would have been no Tristano without Bird. There would be no Brecker without Bird. There would be no Mark Turner or Chris Potter without Bird. And on and on...

You can rest assured that those at the level of the above listed artists understand the eternal relevance of Charlie Parker to improvising (and music in general).

Imitators and repertory artists have the safety of knowing what befell the daring.

Jazz is about daring, not "painting by numbers".

Leroy said...

Totally agree! Bird was born in 1920. Stitt in 1924. Think about the 4 year difference. When Bird is 20 Stitt is 16. What if there was no Bird. How would Stitt have developed? Should Stitt get any innovative recognition or is he solely in Bird's debt?


Anonymous said...

ooooohhh me too! I want to play the contrafactual hypothetical too! can i please please?

What if Trane and John Lennon had made an album in the 80s that opened up a portal to another dimension in which Bartok and Monk exchanged places?

see how ridiculous an exercise it has already become?

Bird lived, Stitt lived. Followed, follows, you can't rearrange the chronology. just appreciate and know it. You're right though Leroy, Stitt does some wicked shit. Bird's always and forever going to be the lead-off hitter though...

Nigel said...

Thanks for the uninformed name dropping. The frustration of blogs.Leroy tries to start an intelligent dialogue and Bozo jumps in.

Happy In Bag said...

Tony- Your comment got lost in the shuffle. I apologize for not seeing it until now.