Weekly Posting, January 3rd, 2020

Weekly Posting, January 3rd, 2020 As a result of recent edits to this post, it has jumped to the top, but it was 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. Many of the earliest posts were shorter promotional emails. As of today, February 15th, 2021, I have replaced the original January 3rd, 2020 blurb with a new essay on Bird’s early life that includes his first recording. I will be expanding other … Continue reading Weekly Posting, January 3rd, 2020

Weekly Posting, December 31st, 2020

Today is the last day of Bird’s centennial year, and this posting is one day early, in case you want to ring in the new year with Bird’s 1949 New Year’s Morning broadcast from the Royal Roost in New York City. What better way to give Bird a final toast on his hundredth birthday? Thanks again to everyone who has enjoyed these fifty-two postings in Charlie Parker’s honor. This one, number fifty-three, is a something of a Postscript.  There was a simple algorithm to Charlie Parker’s life: he did whatever he felt like doing at any given moment, regardless of the consequences. Doing … Continue reading Weekly Posting, December 31st, 2020

Weekly Posting December 25th, 2020

On December 25th, 1948, Charlie Parker (Bird) performed at the Royal Roost, along with Kenny Dorham, trumpet, Al Haig, piano, Tommy Potter, bass, and Max Roach, drums. This Christmas Day radio broadcast was snatched from the airwaves by the indefatigable Boris Rose, a national treasure who recorded countless live jazz broadcasts from the comfort of his home. The recordings he captured from the Roost are among the finest live performances we have of Bird’s working quintet. Today’s offering consists of a single track: Bird’s one and only performance of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, which I feel conveys the Christmas spirit and hope you … Continue reading Weekly Posting December 25th, 2020

Weekly Posting, December 18th, 2020

On December 15th, 1949, Charlie Parker (Bird) played at the opening of a new nightclub named in his honor. The program at Birdland that night was billed as “A Journey Through Jazz”, and Bird shared the stage with Lester Young (Prez) and Lennie Tristano, among other prominent players. The concert’s conceit was self-explanatory: Prez was there to represent swing, Bird to represent bop, and Lennie to represent the future. The club’s choice of name was an extraordinary acknowledgement of Bird’s status, at age twenty-nine, as the most influential musician of his generation. More extraordinary still, fewer than three years had passed … Continue reading Weekly Posting, December 18th, 2020

Weekly Posting, December 11th, 2020

In the early 1940s, the jazz ecosystem in New York worked something like this: new ideas were incubated in Harlem by Black musicians, then hatched on 52nd Street for white audiences. At first, the advances being made at Minton’s and Monroe’s were too radical for the Street, but they inevitably seeped into the mainstream. Musicians and listeners of all stripes journeyed to Harlem to check out the scene, and by 1944 the new music had enough of a following to be commercially viable. Certain clubs on 52nd Street, most notably the Onyx and the Three Deuces, began booking it, at which point … Continue reading Weekly Posting, December 11th, 2020

Weekly Posting, December 4th, 2020

On November 26th, 1945, Charlie Parker (Bird) entered WOR Studios in New York City, accompanied by Miles Davis (trumpet), Dizzy Gillespie (piano. trumpet), Curly Russell (bass) and Max Roach (drums), for his first recording date as a leader. Four of Bird’s original compositions were recorded that day: Billie’s Bounce, Now’s the Time, Thriving from a Riff, and KoKo, in that order. Two incomplete tracks were also recorded at different points: Warming Up a Riff (Cherokee) and Meandering (Embraceable You). The influence of these recordings can’t be overestimated, and KoKo is one of the most celebrated masterpieces in jazz history. If everything had gone according to plan, Dizzy would have been somewhere … Continue reading Weekly Posting, December 4th, 2020

Weekly Posting, November 27th, 2020

On November 26th, 1945, Charlie Parker (Bird) entered WOR Studios in New York City, accompanied by Miles Davis (trumpet), Dizzy Gillespie (piano. trumpet), Curly Russell (bass) and Max Roach (drums), for his first recording date as a leader. Four of Bird’s original compositions were recorded that day: Billie’s Bounce, Now’s the Time, Thriving from a Riff, and KoKo, in that order. Two incomplete tracks were also recorded at different points: Warming Up a Riff (Cherokee) and Meandering (Embraceable You). The influence of these recordings can’t be overestimated, and KoKo is one of the most celebrated masterpieces in jazz history.  Given how momentous the occasion was, it’s surprising how much confusion still … Continue reading Weekly Posting, November 27th, 2020

Weekly Posting, November 20th, 2020

Charlie and Doris Parker were married on November 20, 1948, and today would have been their 72nd wedding anniversary. Of course, Charlie Parker (Bird) would have had to live to age 100. As it was, he only made it a third of the way. And their marriage would have had to last for 72 years, whereas it only lasted about 72 weeks. This figure is misleading, though. They had been living together for about three years before Bird had the impulse to tie the knot, well past the midpoint in their relationship. At about the same time, Bird also married, in … Continue reading Weekly Posting, November 20th, 2020

Weekly Posting, November 13th, 2020

Last call for systemic racism! As Charlie Parker’s centennial year draws to a close, there will be no further opportunities to examine his legal disputes with white nightclub owners, which are due for reevaluation. Given that America is, as of this morning, still struggling to identify and acknowledge the racism that pervades our society, the impact it had on Bird’s life in the 1950s, when it went unchecked, is hard to overestimate. In the midst of our soul-searching, it’s worth examining how unconscious racial biases may have influenced Bird‘s biographers. On Monday, October 12, 1953, Charlie Parker (Bird) opened at … Continue reading Weekly Posting, November 13th, 2020

Weekly Posting, November 6th, 2020

On Tuesday, November 4th, 1947, Charlie Parker (Bird) returned to WOR Studios in New York City, along with Miles Davis (trumpet), Duke Jordan (piano), Tommy Potter (bass), and Max Roach (drums), to record again for Dial Records, the label owned and operated by Ross Russell. History seemed to be repeating itself on a weekly basis: they had recorded there exactly seven days before, on Tuesday, October 28th. It’s unusual to find two recording sessions so close in proximity, and this raises interesting questions. To a large extent, Bird only composed when recording sessions demanded it. He often wrote out new … Continue reading Weekly Posting, November 6th, 2020