woensdag 3 februari 2016

The reason why I play the sax: Charlie Parker

I remember seeing the movie Bird by Clint Eastwood. The musical genius was already clear to me but to see his tragic life come by, portrayed so vividly by Forest Whitaker (who will always remain 'Charlie Parker' for me) was something else.

I was and am a big Parker fan ever since I started playing the sax. Well, even before, when I chose an instrument, my father had me eventually choose between Parker and Benny Goodman. He played them for me from a Verve collection record.  I chose Parker. The speed, the sound, I was saxophonized for ever. 

This article describes his life and his musical influences (with lots of juicy quotes by colleagues):


This article gave me some memories I had from the movie. The tragedy, the craziness, the genius. I was in my early teens when I saw the movie, but I will never forget it. Drugs were more important for Parker than anything else. Even than his saxophone, most of the time. He tries to kick drugs one time, and his is when he records one of most beautiful albums, 'Parker with strings'. (https://open.spotify.com/album/1vDghy6Zi6NYvwRHEeN72E). One day I will find a way to put this album on my repertoire somehow, like I did with the music of Prince (http://tiesmellema.nl/#!/shop/princepiration)

Some audio examples of pieces and artists mentioned in the article:

This is Walter Page's Blue Devils with Buster Smith, Parker's musical father:

And this is Jay McShann's Jumpin' Blues:

The Earl Hines Orchestra:

Billy Eckstine Band:

This is the version of 'Lover Man' that Parker didn't want to be released but was released nonetheless. Parker was suffering from violent tics at that time:
(Listen to the rhythm section playing the tune almost childish, perhaps to keep Parker in line?)

Bartok's 2nd Piano Concert:

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