Sunday, August 2, 2020

Exhibit Review: Saxophone Supreme at the American Jazz Museum

Chuck Haddix recently told me the Saxophone Supreme exhibit at the American Jazz Museum is like a CliffsNotes version of his 2013 book Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker(Plastic Sax review.)  A recent examination of the new installation Haddix co-curated with the American Jazz Museum’s Geri Sanders confirms his assessment.

Anchored by twelve handsome panels designed by Sean McCue of UMKC Libraries, Saxophone Supreme is a three-dimensional rendering of Haddix’s text.  Ephemera including album covers, biographies, performance contracts, artistic renderings and a menu from the second version of Birdland are displayed.  Several interactive sound clips are useful for visitors who bring their own headphones.  Here’s a link to a rendition of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”.  Haddix tells me it's otherwise unavailable.

I wholeheartedly recommend Saxophone Supreme to anyone who knows little about Parker.  Admission is free.  Yet nothing in the exhibit is new to me, nor does the array of artifacts deepen my understanding of Bird.  An edition of CliffsNotes can be an indispensable tool for an apprehensive student.  But when it comes to Parker, I insist on complete and unabridged editions in the form of a biographies such as Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

No comments: