Bird : The Life and Music of Charlie Parker

3.41 (39 ratings by Goodreads)
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Saxophone virtuoso Charlie "Bird" Parker began playing professionally in his early teens, became a heroin addict at 16, changed the course of music, and then died when only 34 years old. His friend Robert Reisner observed, "Parker, in the brief span of his life, crowded more living into it than any other human being." Like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, he was a transitional composer and improviser who ushered in a new era of jazz by pioneering bebop and influenced subsequent generations of musicians. Meticulously researched and written, Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker tells the story of his life, music, and career. This new biography artfully weaves together firsthand accounts from those who knew him with new information about his life and career to create a compelling narrative portrait of a tragic genius. While other books about Parker have focused primarily on his music and recordings, this portrait reveals the troubled man behind the music, illustrating how his addictions and struggles with mental health affected his life and career. He was alternatively generous and miserly; a loving husband and father at home but an incorrigible philanderer on the road; and a chronic addict who lectured younger musicians about the dangers of drugs. Above all he was a musician, who overcame humiliation, disappointment, and a life-threatening car wreck to take wing as Bird, a brilliant improviser and composer. With in-depth research into previously overlooked sources and illustrated with several never-before-seen images, Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker corrects much of the misinformation and myth about one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 149.86 x 223.52 x 15.24mm | 317.51g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0252080890
  • 9780252080890
  • 1,733,384

Review quote

"As comprehensive and appreciative as any of the past Parker literature."--The Santa Fe New Mexican "Bird makes extensive use of primary-source material, much of it hitherto unknown. . . . It sets forth the known facts of Parker's brief life in a way that is unusually thorough for so concise a book."--Commentary "A well-researched and rapidly consumed book." "Clearly the most complete account of the saxophonist's early life and career. What emerges from Bird is a much more human tale that we have not heard before." "Impressive detail, a notable addition to the extensive Music in American Life Series."--Booklist "Balancing historical research and anecdotal information, Haddix artfully crafts a rich context for understanding the musical genius--and enigma-that was Bird. . . . the book's pacing, numerous quotes from other musicians, and references to legal practices of the time make it hard to put down. Highly recommended."--Choiceshow more

About Chuck Haddix

Chuck Haddix is the director of the Marr Sound Archives of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries. He is the coauthor of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop--A History and the producer and host of KCUR-FM's "The Fish Fry," a popular radio more

Rating details

39 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 18% (7)
4 23% (9)
3 46% (18)
2 8% (3)
1 5% (2)
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