As a result of recent edits to this post, it has jumped to the top, but it is in fact the very first posting of 2020. As such, it was really a brief promotional blurb for the POSTunderground’s regular Friday night jazz events, devoted to Bird’s music in honor of his hundredth birthday. These, of course, came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit. From that point forward, the blurbs became weekly essays and took on a life of their own, continuing throughout Bird’s centennial year. I will be returning to these early posts and expanding them in days ahead, although I hope to prevent them from jumping to the top. I will also be adding musical offerings to these early posts, so in time they will resemble later posts in depth and format. Meanwhile, this post will remain at the top since it now serves to explain what’s what, plus I have no idea how to move it back down.
The world has made it to 2020, and that’s cause for celebration in itself. But there’s cause for a larger, more sustained, celebration, because 2020 is Charlie Parker’s centennial year. That’s right, Bird was born on August 29th,1920, and would be 99 years old as of this writing. Tragically, he didn’t come remotely close. When he died in Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter’s NYC apartment on Saturday, March 12th, 1955, the headlines screamed “Bop King Dies in Heiress’ Flat” and the Baroness became embroiled in a scandal that ultimately led to her divorce. The newspaper accounts listed Bird’s age as 53, an estimate made by the attending physician. He was 34.
Is John Purcell the foremost Charlie Parker fanatic in Boston? I’m not sure anyone is keeping track, but I make this bold assertion nonetheless. Every Friday, from now until Friday, August 28th, he will present Bird’s music and will ramble, in his stream-of-pointlessness fashion, about Bird’s life. Tonight, the House Band will recreate the program that was captured in a radio broadcast from the Royal Roost on January 1st, 1949. Charlie Parker was at the height of his artistry and celebrity, yet well along the path to his own destruction. It also marked the debut of trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who had replaced Miles Davis in the quintet just days before. Why did Miles quit? That question, among others, will be pondered tonight!